Background: Vertebral compression fractures are common complications in advanced osteoporosis. In general, this disease of the elderly patient is characterized by severe local back pain. Pathophysiologically, bony instability triggers local pain during body movement. Serious pain immobilizes the patients and forces them to bed rest. As a result, complications like thrombosis or pneumonia occur. Invasive treatment with surgical instrumentation for vertebral stabilization is not indicated in elderly patients especially with additional diseases. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that percutaneous polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) vertebroplasty significantly reduces pain due to vertebral collapse in osteoporotic patients and improves quality of life.
Methods: A total of 38 patients with osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures of the thoracic and lumbar spine were treated by PMMA vertebroplasty. After admission, before discharge from the hospital, six weeks, half a year and one year later patients answered the Oswestry Low Back Pain Disability (OLBPD) Questionnaire for assessment of treatment related change in disability. In all patients percutaneous vertebroplasty was performed under local anesthesia.
Findings: A total of 92% of patients reported a significant pain reduction immediately after treatment. Also one year after vertebroplasty pain remained significantly reduced. Vertebroplasty was highly beneficial for patients with pain related to local instability of the spine. Extravasation of PMMA beyond the vertebral margins was observed in 26% of the cases. No treatment related clinical or neurological complications were noticed.
Interpretation: PMMA vertebroplasty is a useful and safe method of pain relief which rapidly regains quality of life for patients with osteoporotic vertebral compression.
Copyright 2004 Springer-Verlag