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Interventional Neuroradiology

Vertebroplasty

Suburban Hospital now offers a spine-stabilizing procedure called vertebroplasty. Relatively new in the United States, the minimally invasive technique is used to relieve chronic back pain associated with spinal compression fractures, usually caused by the progressive bone loss of osteoporosis.

Nearly 80 percent of Americans suffer back pain at some point in their lives. One of the leading causes of pain is a fracture of a vertebra in the spine. Researchers estimate that at least 25 percent of all women and a somewhat smaller percentage of men over the age of 50 will suffer one or more vertebral compression fractures due to the erosion and natural bone loss of osteoporosis. Other causes of vertebral fractures include trauma to the spine or certain forms of cancer.

While vertebral fractures can occur without pain, often they cause intense radiating and even debilitating pain. Until recently, treatment options for vertebral compression fractures were limited to pain management with strong oral or intravenous medications, reduced activity, bracing or invasive back surgery with mediocre results.

Vertebroplasty offers patients a promising alternative without the need for major surgery.

About the Procedure

Percutaneous vertebroplasty is a nonsurgical, outpatient procedure that involves inserting a cement-like material into the center of the collapsed spinal vertebra in order to stabilize and strengthen the crushed bone. With the patient under a local anesthetic, an interventional radiologist inserts a needle into the fractured area of the spine and then, using guided imagery, such as computerized tomography (CT) scanning and fluoroscopy, fills the cavity with a medical-grade epoxy or glue. Shortly after injection, the cement-like material hardens, creating a supportive structure that prevents further collapse and alleviates pain. The procedure takes less than an hour and patients are able to return home the same day.

Suburban Hospital is one of only a few community hospitals in the Washington, D.C. metro area offering this relatively new procedure. Under the direction of Dr. Bradley Dick, Suburban Hospital has performed more than 900 cases with at least 85 percent of patients reporting significant or total pain relief.

To learn more about vertebroplasty or to find out if the procedure is appropriate for you, please consult your physician. If you need a physician, please call the Suburban Hospital Physician Match Referral Service at 301-896-3939.

Radiology

Suburban Hospital's Radiology Department provides a complete range of diagnostic and interventional services including general X-rays, ultrasound, CT scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), angiography and coronary CT angiography. The facility is equipped with state-of-the-art imaging equipment and technology, including fully digital images through the use of a picture archiving and communication system (PACS). PACS gives physicians the ability to review images from anywhere by using the Internet with a secured VPN access. A voice-recognition dictation system speeds the reporting of results, which are electronically available in a short time.

The department also houses the NIH-Suburban MRI Center, a joint program of Suburban Hospital and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is designed to study the use of MRI in diagnosing heart attack and stroke.

GCM-Suburban Imaging

This is a joint venture between Suburban Hospital and Doctors Groover, Christie, & Merritt (GCM) Radiology. The full range of the most modern imaging modalities are offered including a dedicated combined PET/CT scanner, high field MRI and multislice CT for diagnostic and screening CT exams. We are also proud to provide diagnostic and interventional mammography services for the Suburban Breast Care Program. Our state-of-the-art imaging center has been chosen as a National Show Site by G.E. Medical Systems.

Both the Imaging Center and Suburban Hospital’s outpatient radiology department use all digital equipment and are filmless. This technology enables referring physicians to view their patient’s studies from their home or office. Patients may also take a CD of their images with them after their exam. Studies can be transmitted electronically to subspecialty trained GCM radiologists to either the GCM-Suburban Imaging office or to Suburban Hospital, providing rapid access to the highest quality interpretation.

Visit GCM for more detailed information about these imaging services.

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