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Current and emerging treatment strategies for vertebral compression fractures

Authors Hacein-Bey L

Received 29 February 2012

Accepted for publication 29 March 2012

Published 29 May 2012 Volume 2012:4 Pages 65—75


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Lotfi Hacein-Bey
Radiological Associates of Sacramento Medical Group Inc, Sacramento, CA, USA

Background: Vertebral compression fractures are most commonly related to osteoporosis or cancer, both of which are on the rise throughout the world. Once a vertebra is fractured, gradual deterioration of quality of life due to crippling pain and spinal instability usually follows. Although a number of traditional management options have been available to promote pain relief and to allow for increased activities, such as bed rest, bracing, pain medications, and light exercise programs, these have limited effectiveness in the majority of patients. Over 20 years ago, percutaneous vertebroplasty, which is a minimally invasive procedure consisting of the injection of polymethylmethacrylate directly into the fractured vertebra, emerged as an effective treatment. Various vertebral augmentation procedures were subsequently designed, all of which aim at eliminating pain, limiting or reversing vertebral collapse, and providing stability to the affected segment of the spine.
Objective: This article discusses clinical aspects of vertebral compression fractures, current indications and contraindications and summarizes technical aspects of vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty, lordoplasty, and device-implanting vertebral augmentation procedures. Treatment effectiveness, which is significant despite recent criticism of vertebroplasty and other vertebral augmentation procedures, is also discussed. As economic pressures on health care systems are increasing in all countries, it is expected that the appropriateness, clinical effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of vertebral augmentation procedures will be increasingly established by outcome analyses.
Conclusion: It is important that physicians are familiar with vertebroplasty and other procedures designed to treat vertebral fractures in patients with advanced osteoporosis or cancer. These fractures, which are common and often crippling, had no real effective treatment until the advent of vertebroplasty. The feasibility and effectiveness of vertebral augmentation procedures are high, whereas the complication rates and overall costs are relatively low.

Keywords: vertebral fracture, osteoporosis, vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty, vertebral augmentation

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