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Vertebroplasty Back Pain Treatment may Cause Breaks near Fractured Vertebrae

January 18th 2006

Vertebroplasty Back Pain Treatment may Cause Breaks near Fractured Vertebrae

Fractured Vertebrae

Vertebroplasty is a new procedure that is used to treat pain caused by compression fractures of the spine.  This is usually associated with osteoporosis or similar conditions.  New research from the Mayo Clinic finds that although the treatment is successful in treating one fracture it may cause others.

The treatment has only been used with patients with chronic pain that will not go away due to a fracture.  Each year 700,000 people will suffer an injury to the spine.  The fracture can occur from simple movements such as bending over to tie your shoe or turning in bed.  The pain will go away on its own in four weeks in four out five people.  

When the patientís bones are too weak due to osteoporosis, surgery may not be an option.  Vertebroplasty is the only available treatment option for patients in this condition. Also vertebroplasty is not appropriate for patients with back pain due to ligament injuries, joint disease or narrowing of the spinal canal.  It involves injecting bone cement into fractured vertebrae. 


Vertebroplasty appears to cause new fractures in adjacent vertebrae in some patients.  Also, the study found vertebrae adjacent to fractures treated with vertebroplasty fracture significantly sooner than more distant vertebrae.  According to Andrew Trout, author of the paper, "People should be made aware of the fact that despite the positive benefits of vertebroplasty, there is a risk of new fractures with this procedure."

According to Dr. David Kallmes, M.D., Mayo Clinic neuroradiologist and senior study investigator and who still practices vertebroplasty, the advantages outweigh the risks. "I still have an open mind about the true risk of new fracture after vertebroplasty," he says. "Vertebroplasty most likely is a good procedure, and it is still probably prudent to help relieve pain with vertebroplasty.


This is the results of the study: This study involved a retrospective analysis of the risk and timing of subsequent fractures in 432 Mayo Clinic patients previously treated with vertebroplasty. From this group, 186 new fractures occurred post-vertebroplasty in 86 patients; 77 of the fractures were located in vertebrae adjacent to the vertebroplasty-treated vertebrae.

Researchers are considering possible alternatives to the current bone cement that may function better.  The increased risk of adjacent vertebral fractures post-vertebroplasty in some patients could be due to throwing off the biomechanics of the spine by introducing cement, or it could relate to the especially weakened nature of the bones in some patients or the type of cement used in the procedure. The researchers are also looking at drug therapies aimed at overall bone health.

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By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

Books on Pain

Keywords and misspellings:  pain pane back bak

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:49 PM