What is Vertebroplasty?

Vertebroplasty is a medical spinal procedure where bone cement is injected through a small hole in the skin (percutaneously) into a fractured vertebra with the goal of relieving the pain of osteoporotic compression fractures.

It has been found to be ineffective in treating compression fracture of the spine.

Some of the associated risks that can be produced are from the leak of acrylic cement outside of the vertebral body. Although severe complications are extremely rare, it is important to know that infection, bleeding, numbness, tingling, headache, and paralysis may ensue due to misplacement of the needle or cement. This particular risk is decreased by the use of x-ray or other radiological imaging to ensure proper placement of the cement.

Two studies published in ''The New England Journal of Medicine'' found no benefit to vertebroplasty:

  • In a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 131 participants who were patients with one or two painful osteoporotic vertebral fractures, vertebroplasty did not result in greater improvement than a sham procedure in overall pain, physical functioning, or quality of life at 3 or 6 months after treatment. Jeffrey Jarvik of the University of Washington said his study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, found vertebroplasty had no detectable benefit when compared with procedures that only mimicked such procedures. He advises that "vertebroplasty should not be done any longer, unless it's in the setting of a study.
  • In a randomized trial involving 78 participants with osteoporotic vertebral ''compression fractures'', patients who underwent vertebroplasty had improvements in pain and disability measures that were similar to those in patients who underwent a sham procedure. University of Virginia radiologist Avery Evans said his study, which was funded by the Australian government and Cook Medical Inc., found vertebroplasty and sham procedures offered patients nearly identical pain relief. Additionally, there has been criticism that the "sham" or "placebo" procedure performed in the studies would be more appropriately classified as an alternative procedure in that there was, in fact, surgical intervention around the vertebra. and many vertebroplasty practitioners continue to advocate for the procedure. However, none of the other studies had the benefit of double-blind comparisons against placebos and randomized samples of patients.

Further Reading


This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article on "Vertebroplasty" All material adapted used from Wikipedia is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Wikipedia® itself is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Last Updated: Sep 15, 2014

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