Paraplegia as a complication of percutaneous vertebroplasty with polymethylmethacrylate: a case report

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2002 Oct 1;27(19):E419-22. doi: 10.1097/00007632-200210010-00022.


Study design: A case report and review of the literature are presented.

Objective: To present the first case of paraplegia as a complication of percutaneous vertebroplasty with polymethylmethacrylate in osteoporotic compression fracture.

Summary of background data: Complications of percutaneous vertebroplasty with polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) for the treatment of osteoporotic compression fracture were found to be rare and minor, except in two cases of major neurologic complication.

Methods: The reported case is that of a 66-year-old woman with multilevel vertebral osteopenia and compression fractures. Percutaneous vertebroplasty using polymethylmethacrylate was performed at three vertebral bodies (L2, L1, and T11) using careful techniques including venography, large cannula, proper preparation and amount of polymethylmethacrylate, and continuous visualization with fluoroscopy.

Results: Immediately after surgery, the patient had complete motor and sensory deficits at T11. Computed tomography scan showed spinal cord compression caused by venous leakage of polymethylmethacrylate. In anticipation of recovery from paraplegia, posterior decompression was performed from L2 to T10.

Conclusions: Percutaneous vertebroplasty with polymethylmethacrylate is not as simple and risk free as advocated in the literature. Careful safeguards and modifications are needed for the procedure, and new and physiologic material could be substituted for polymethylmethacrylate.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Decompression, Surgical
  • Drug Administration Routes
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / drug effects
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery
  • Osteoporosis / complications
  • Paraplegia / diagnosis*
  • Paraplegia / etiology*
  • Polymethyl Methacrylate / administration & dosage
  • Polymethyl Methacrylate / adverse effects*
  • Reoperation
  • Spinal Cord Compression / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Cord Compression / etiology*
  • Spinal Fractures / etiology
  • Spinal Fractures / therapy
  • Thoracic Vertebrae* / drug effects
  • Thoracic Vertebrae* / surgery
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Polymethyl Methacrylate