Purpose: To describe the immediate outcome of a large cohort of patients who underwent percutaneous polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) vertebroplasty for treatment of one or more vertebral fractures.
Materials and methods: This retrospective cohort study included seven university-based and private hospitals in the United States. Of 488 consecutive patients (mean age, 76 years) who underwent percutaneous PMMA vertebroplasty between 1996 and 1999, 245 were successfully interviewed retrospectively after vertebroplasty (median time, 7 months). Through telephone interview, patients completed our self-developed questionnaire designed to measure pain (10-point scale), ambulation (five-point scale), and ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL) (five-point scale) before and after vertebroplasty. Differences in reported pain, ambulation, and ability to perform ADL before and after vertebroplasty were evaluated with paired t tests. Differences in proportions were compared with the McNemar test. Subgroup analyses were performed to assess the consistency of differences in pre- and postprocedural pain and functional status by patient age, number of fractures, time from fracture to vertebroplasty, and time from vertebroplasty to questionnaire completion.
Results: On a 10-point scale, mean pain decreased from 8.9 before vertebroplasty to 3.4 afterward (P <.001). Seventy-two percent of patients had substantially impaired ambulation before vertebroplasty compared with 28% afterward (P <.001). Ability to perform ADL was also significantly improved following vertebroplasty (P <.001). Twelve patients (4.9%) experienced symptomatic complications (none major or life threatening).
Conclusion: Treatment of vertebral fractures with percutaneous PMMA vertebroplasty appears to be safe and results in substantial immediate pain reduction and improved functional status. A randomized controlled trial appears warranted to assess the efficacy and safety of vertebroplasty.