Vertebroplasty Heals Fractures but Causes Others

Like dominos - if a vertebrae "falls",
the ones next to it will follow
© PixelQuelle.de

The Mayo Clinic researchers discovered that following vertebroplasty, which involves injecting bone cement into the vertebrae to stabilise fractures, patients’ risk for new fractures in vertebrae adjacent to those treated was 4.62 times the risk for nonadjacent vertebral fractures.

In addition, they found that new fractures occurred in adjacent vertebrae sooner than in nonadjacent vertebrae: a median of 55 days following vertebroplasty for adjacent fractures and 127 days for nonadjacent vertebral fractures. This is the largest study ever to address the risk of new fractures post-vertebroplasty and the first study to examine whether there is a difference in time course between the development of new fractures adjacent and nonadjacent to the original fracture after treatment with vertebroplasty.

“Previous studies of vertebroplasty in cadavers and using computer simulation suggested that inserting cement in one bone weakens adjacent bones,” explains David Kallmes, M.D., Mayo Clinic neuroradiologist and senior study investigator. The weakening effect is possible due to the overall cushioning effect of the spine, where stiffening one part puts greater stress on another, he says.

Kallmes explains that though this study points to a significant association between vertebroplasty and new fractures occurring in adjacent vertebrae, it is not absolute proof of cause and effect. But, at this point in the research, Kallmes still practices vertebroplasty and believes the potential advantages outweigh the risks.

MEDICA.de; Source: Mayo Clinic