Management of acute osteoporotic vertebral fractures: a nonrandomized trial comparing percutaneous vertebroplasty with conservative therapy

Am J Med. 2003 Mar;114(4):257-65. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9343(02)01524-3.


Purpose: We sought to determine whether percutaneous vertebroplasty--which involves the injection of cement to stabilize a fractured vertebral body--may be an effective treatment for vertebral fracture.

Methods: We enrolled 79 consecutive osteoporotic patients (24 men and 55 women; ages 51 to 93 years) presenting with acute vertebral fractures. Clinical characteristics and bone densitometry were measured at baseline. Pain scores (on a 0 to 25 scale) and levels of function (on a 0 to 20 scale) were recorded on presentation, at 24 hours, at 6 weeks, and 6 to 12 months after therapy.

Results: Fifty-five patients (70%) were treated by percutaneous vertebroplasty and 24 (30%) were treated by conservative therapy alone. They were followed for a mean of 215 days (range, 57 to 399 days). The baseline clinical characteristics, bone densitometry, and fracture data were similar in the two groups. Twenty-four hours after vertebroplasty, there was a 53% reduction in pain scores (from 19 to 9; P = 0.0001) and a 29% improvement in physical functioning (from 14 to 18; P = 0.0001), whereas pain scores and physical functioning remained unchanged at 24 hours in the patients treated conservatively (both P = 0.0001 compared with the changes after percutaneous vertebroplasty). Thirteen patients (24%) treated by percutaneous vertebroplasty were able to cease all analgesia after 24 hours (P = 0.0001 compared with none of the 24 patients treated conservatively). Clinical outcomes at 6 weeks and 6 to 12 months were similar in both groups.

Conclusion: When compared with conservative therapy, percutaneous vertebroplasty results in prompt pain relief and rapid rehabilitation. In experienced hands, it is a safe and effective procedure for treating acute osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bone Cements
  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fractures, Spontaneous / etiology
  • Fractures, Spontaneous / rehabilitation
  • Fractures, Spontaneous / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orthopedic Procedures / methods*
  • Osteoporosis / complications*
  • Osteoporosis / diagnosis
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / methods
  • Probability
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Spinal Fractures / etiology
  • Spinal Fractures / rehabilitation
  • Spinal Fractures / surgery*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Bone Cements