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Vertebroplasty Osteoporosis Treatment for Back Pain and Broken Vertebra

August 29th 2005

Vertebroplasty Osteoporosis Treatment for back pain and Broken vertebra

Spinal Treatment

Approximately 700,000 spinal bone fractures occur each year.  They usually occur in women over the age of 60.  Usually the treatment has required the patient to wear a back brace.  The patients were also given powerful narcotics to dull the pain. 

Loss of movement has also accompanied spinal bone fractures.   These vertebrae fractures have been more difficult to manage than broken bones in the hip or elsewhere.  When a bone is broken in the hip and elsewhere surgical and non-surgical treatments have been available. 

A new treatment for fractured vertebrae has been accessible the past few years and presents new hope.  There are questions as to how the new treatment works.  Vertebroplasty (ver-TEE-bro-plasty) according to the Society of Interventional Radiology has been “shown to be extremely effective in reducing or eliminating the pain caused by spinal fractures.” 


Vertebroplasty, a non-surgical treatment performed using imaging guidance by interventional radiologists, stabilizes the collapsed vertebra with the injection of medical-grade bone cement into the spine. According to the Society it has helped to relieve pain and prevented further collapse.  It has been used to treat vertebral compression fractures that were unresponsive to conventional medical therapy. 

With vertebroplasty becoming so common the New York Times has brought up some very important questions.  What exactly does the treatment do?  It is possible that the hot cement merely destroys the nerve endings, removing the pain. or patients experience a placebo effect. 

It has been pointed out that vertebroplasty could be harmful. By shoring up one vertebrae, adjacent ones may be more likely to break. 


In 2002 a group of researchers received a federal grant in hope of answering some of these questions.  The group has run into a problem: Few patients with severe pain are willing to enter the trial.  They fear being given the placebo. 

In 18 months so far only three patients have enrolled.  Some 27,000 vertebroplasties have been performed in 2004.  The number has skyrocketed since 2001 when only 14,000 were performed.  Medicare will cover the procedure.


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We received this comment: 

I am a 58 yrs old male, sever osteoporosis with collapsed L1, L2, L3 L4 L5.I was on constant medication of Morphine which at times didn't control the pain.  I had this procedure on Friday 16th Oct in Staffordshire, England. The operation took some 2hrs 30 mins, and after 45 minutes of coming out of the operating theatre was pain free, and able to get out of bed without any aid. I was discharged 24 hours later.  Alan Bennion-Rowe

By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Wednesday, August 23, 2006 01:40 PM