The individual vertebrae of the spinal column consist of the vertebral body, the spinous processes and the vertebral arches. Like all other bones in the body, these structures are also subject to fracture - through a fall, an accident, or age-related decrease in bone density (osteoporosis).
Broken bones can heal, but when the fracture is "unstable", the pieces of bone or bone fragments can pose a threat to the spine’s neural pathways.
When a patient with an unstable vertebral fracture has to undergo surgery, the affected vertebrae can be screwed to the adjacent ones. Another method of stabilizing a fracture is with liquid bone cement. Sometimes it is necessary to remove fractured vertebra parts or discs and replace them with an implant.