For those with a vertebral compression fracture due to osteoporosis, it can be very painful and debilitating. The surgical procedure known as vertebroplasty was developed approximately 20 years ago as an answer for pain due to spinal fractures of this type. It helps with both osteoporosis fractures and also those due to tumors such as with multiple myeloma.
During the procedure, a special type of bone cement is injected into the fractured bone using a real-time form of x-ray known as fluoroscopy. The results of a recent large study published in the journal Lancet are showing that vertebroplasty helps heal some of these fractures and decrease pain.
This study was performed in 2010 and came on the heels of a 2009 study including 266 patients showing that the procedure decreased pain and increased physical functioning compared with conservative treatment. These benefits from vertebroplasty were shown to continue for at least two years.
There have been a couple studies that have not shown any benefit of vertebroplasty treatment. They were both published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2009. Both studies have received criticism because the procedure was not restricted to those who had an acute fracture.
The lead author of a 2010 study showing a low rate of new vertebral fractures after vertebroplasty had this to say about the negative studies “the key to success with vertebroplasty is a careful selection of patients including confirmation with magnetic resonance imaging that the source of pain is a vertebral compression fracture. Treatment within 6 to 8 weeks of the fracture of patient should consist of appropriate post intervention treatment consisting of pharmacologic anti-fracture treatment and calcium/vitamin D supplementation.”
Studies are showing that if patients receive the procedure within six weeks of symptom onset from the fracture, the treatment outcomes have been excellent. Those receiving the vertebroplasty procedure had significantly lower pain scores at all times in the follow-up which included one year after the procedure. Quality-of-life also improved significantly when compared to conservative treatment. Less pain medicine was needed after the procedure than in those treated conservatively. There was no significant difference in cost between vertebroplasty versus the nonsurgical approach.
If you or a loved one has experienced a vertebral compression fracture with back pain, an interventional pain management doctor can help with a vertebroplasty. The procedure is performed as an outpatient and maintains a low risk profile. It does have some risk but not nearly as much as an open type of spinal procedure.
Call (602) 507-6550 today for help with our pain management doctors in Arizona. Arizona Pain Specialists has pain clinics all over the Valley and has Board Certified Pain Doctors who have performed hundreds of vertebroplasties at their pain clinics in Arizona.