Welcome to Johns Hopkins Health Alerts!

"Johns Hopkins Health Alerts is an excellent site and I have recommended it to several of my friends. Thanks again, and keep up the good work!"
  • - D. Ambrosio


This free public service from Johns Hopkins Medicine helps keep you up to date on the latest breakthroughs for the most common medical conditions which prevent healthy aging.

Get the latest news sent straight to your inbox for FREE. Check all the boxes below for the topics that interest you.
We value your privacy and will never rent your email address

Johns Hopkins Health Alert

Should You Consider Vertebroplasty? Here’s What the Research Suggests

Comments (0)

If you've ever experienced the pain of an osteoporosis-induced vertebral compression fracture, you know how excruciating and incapacitating it can be. Fortunately, for some people with compression fractures, vertebroplasty has offered pain relief, especially when more conservative approaches like pain medication, bed rest and back braces fail to provide pain relief.

Today, more than 70,000 vertebroplasty procedures are performed each year. But two studies, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, reached the controversial conclusion that vertebroplasty may be of no more benefit than a placebo. The fallout from these studies has sparked an international debate over the efficacy of vertebroplasty. 

What happens during vertebroplasty? During the vertebroplasty procedure, a medical-grade acrylic cement known as polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) is injected through a small needle directly into the fractured vertebra. Vertebroplasty is performed on an outpatient basis, and the PMMA dries within minutes. Though vertebroplasty is not without its risks -- heart and lung damage from leakage of the PMMA and infections -- it's generally regarded as a safe operation. After 24 hours of bed rest, most people can return to normal, nonstrenuous activities. 

What we learned from the two trials. In the first randomized, double-blind study, Australian researchers followed 71 people with painful, unhealed vertebral compression fractures who either underwent vertebroplasty or had a sham procedure that mimicked the operation in every way except for the injection of PMMA. One week, one month, three months and six months after the procedure, the participants reported their level of pain. 

The participants who underwent vertebroplasty had a significant reduction in pain at all of these time points, but the degree of pain relief was no greater than that reported by those who had the sham procedure. Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that vertebroplasty had no beneficial effect. 

The second study included 131 participants who again were divided into two groups who had either vertebroplasty or a sham procedure. One month later, a similar and significant amount of pain relief occurred in both groups, just like in the first study. 

Bottom line advice on vertebroplasty.  For now, based on the New England Journal of Medicine studies, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has issued guidelines recommending against the use of vertebroplasty. 

A range of additional treatments is available for back pain associated with vertebral compression fractures -- medication, back braces, kyphoplasty and spinal fusion -- and there is not yet a consensus that one treatment is superior to another. For now we recommend that you talk with your doctor about your particular back problem and weigh all the options before deciding which treatment is best for you.

Posted in Osteoporosis on March 1, 2012


Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Johns Hopkins Health Alerts Disclaimer


Notify Me

Would you like us to inform you when we post new Osteoporosis Health Alerts?

Post a Comment

Comments

Health Alerts registered users may post comments and share experiences here at their own discretion. We regret that questions on individual health concerns to the Johns Hopkins editors cannot be answered in this space.

The views expressed here do not constitute medical advice, and do not represent the position of Johns Hopkins Medicine or Remedy Health Media, LLC, which has no responsibility for any comments posted on this site.


Post a Comment


Already a subscriber?

Login

Forgot your password?

New to Johns Hopkins Health Alerts?

Register to submit your comments.

(example: yourname@domain.com)

Customer Service

Registered Users Log-in:

Forgot Password?

Become a Registered User!
It's fast and FREE!
The Benefits of Being a Registered User

Johns Hopkins’ Back Pain and Osteoporosis Bestsellers

Johns Hopkins White Papers

  • 2014 Back Pain and Osteoporosis White Paper
    A lifetime of walking, standing, lifting, and twisting causes significant low back pain in 80% of all adults. And as our population continues to age, osteoporosis becomes an increasingly widespread problem. In the Back Pain and Osteoporosis White Paper, Johns Hopkins experts discuss sprains, strains, spasms, disk herniation, degenerative changes in the disks and spine, spinal stenosis, and osteoporosis, a common cause of hip and spine fractures. You will explore causes of back pain, learn about preventive steps and pain relief, and examine treatments that include the latest drug and surgical options.
    Click here to read more or order now

Related Titles:

  • Making the Right Decisions About Knee Replacement Surgery If you're facing knee replacement surgery and wonder what to expect, our authoritative 50–page guide can help. The report presents the latest thinking on knee replacement surgery from specialists who perform the surgery regularly. It includes answers to dozens of real questions from patients like you, plus in–depth discussions on the physiology of the knee . . . knee replacement surgical techniques . . . arthritis management, medication advice and other important information to guide you through the steps and decisions you face as you weight your options.
    Read more or order Making the Right Decisions About Knee Replacement Surgery
  • 2014 Arthritis White Paper
    Arthritis now affects over 70 million Americans. The Johns Hopkins 2014 Arthritis White Paper provides in-depth knowledge on the most recent breakthroughs concerning the most common forms of arthritis-osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, it includes two other rheumatic diseases: fibromyalgia syndrome and bursitis, and also ankylosing spondylitis, gout, and lyme disease.
    Click here to read more or order
  • The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50
    Since 1988, Hopkins experts have been reporting the latest cutting-edge information on treating the major medical conditions affecting those over 50. Women's health, men's medical concerns, nutrition, weight control, breakthroughs on back pain and osteoporosis, and more, direct to you from our specialists. Read more, or order now...

Health Topic Pages

  • Health Alert
  • Special Report

What is this?

XML