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Results of Vertebroplasty Last At Least One Year

Posted on: 03/29/2006
The purpose of this study was to see if vertebroplasty can reduce pain and improve function in patients with compression fractures. Vertebroplasty is the injection of cement into the fractured vertebra to reinforce it. The cause of the fracture was osteoporosis related to aging.

Conservative care was used in all cases for at least four weeks. The hope is to avoid surgery in older adults because of the potential problems that can arise. Pain relievers, exercises, and bracing were all tried first. Despite all this, the patients had severe pain that wouldn't go away.

The results of this study showed good improvement in pain and function within the first month. Patients were able to get in and out of bed easier and sleep better. Sitting and standing were also improved. The one independent living skill that didn't change was toileting. No further changes were observed after 30 days. The changes seen in the first month were still present at one year.

This study along with several other studies report new fractures after vertebroplasty. Most of those new fractures were linked to the osteoporosis. Some were caused by steroids that weaken the bone. The authors suggest further study is needed to see if the number of new fractures after vertebroplasty is actually more than would occur otherwise. It may just be that the new fractures would have happened anyway because of the osteoporosis.

Heidi Prather, DO, et al. Prospective Measurement of Function and Pain in Patients with Non-Neoplastic Compression Fractures Treated with Vertebroplasty. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. February 2006. Vol. 88-A. No. 2. Pp. 334-341.

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