Interventional radiology procedure resolves back pain

The procedure takes 30-45 minutes, and the patient is able to go home a few hours after it is over.

SpineJack4Ahmed Kamel, M.D., director of the Division of Interventional Radiology at UAB.Men and women with osteoporosis may now be able to find relief thanks to a new device and procedure used by interventional radiologists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital.

The device, called SpineJack, is an implantable system that relieves the pain of acute vertebral compression fractures, the most common fracture in patients with osteoporosis. UAB is the only hospital in Alabama to perform this procedure. 

“The procedure has the ability to significantly reduce pain caused by acute vertebral compression fractures and the potential to restore the height of the vertebra,” said Ahmed Kamel, M.D., the director of the Division of Interventional Radiology at UAB.

According to Kamel, the procedure takes 30-45 minutes. The patient is put under conscious sedation as opposed to general anesthesia, which helps decrease the recovery time.

“The patient usually recovers for about two hours after the procedure, and then they go home,” Kamel explained. “They are able to walk and resume their lives.”

The SpineJack device is a titanium implant that resembles a tiny scissor jack. It is put into the fractured vertebra, then expanded to lift the compressed vertebra and potentially restore it to its normal height. Two implants are used in the procedure with one on each side of the vertebral body.

Once the devices are in the desired position, they are locked in place by bone cement, which is injected to stabilize the vertebra.

“The procedure significantly relieves pain and the recovery is much faster than other treatments,” Kamel said.

Another benefit of the procedure is that it is an alternative to pain medications.

“There is an opioid problem nationwide, especially in Alabama,” Kamel explained. “This procedure will help reduce the number of people on pain medications or reduce the number of pain medications administered because it relieves the pain and resolves the problem.”

To find out more about the procedure or to make an appointment to see an interventional radiologist at UAB, visit the UAB Medicine’s Interventional Radiology website or call 800-934-9999.