Vertebral endplate fractures: an indicator of the abnormal forces generated in the spine after vertebroplasty

J Bone Miner Res. 2006 Nov;21(11):1797-802. doi: 10.1359/jbmr.060723.


Vertebroplasty alters spinal biomechanics and may lead to incident vertebral fractures. The endplate localization of prevalent and incident fractures was evaluated in 86 patients. In the absence of vertebroplasty, superior endplate fractures predominate. After the procedure, inferior endplate fractures are disproportionately common in adjacent vertebrae immediately above the treated level, potentially supporting a causative relationship between vertebroplasty and incident fractures.

Introduction: To determine retrospectively whether new-onset fractures after vertebroplasty tend to cluster in the endplate immediately adjacent to the cemented vertebra.

Materials and methods: Institutional Review Board approval and patient consent for use the use of medical records were obtained for this study. We performed a retrospective review of patients with new (incident) vertebral fractures after vertebroplasty. The median age for these patients was 72.5 years, and 58 (67.4%) were women. Fractures were diagnosed on the basis of MRI or bone scan and were catalogued based on their location within the vertebral body (superior endplate, inferior endplate, or holo-vertebral). Chi(2) and generalized estimating equation (GEE) analyses were used to compare the distribution of fracture subtypes among pre-existing (prevalent) and incident fractures.

Results: The patients had 313 prevalent osteoporotic vertebral fractures and were treated at 137 vertebral levels. Among prevalent fractures, superior endplate fractures predominated (57% superior, 11% inferior; p < 0.0001). After vertebroplasty, 186 incident fractures developed in these 86 patients. Seventy-seven (41%) of these incident fractures occurred adjacent to treated vertebrae. Nonadjacent, incident fractures, like prevalent fractures, occurred predominantly along superior endplate. Incident fractures immediately above treated levels, however, localized disproportionately to the inferior endplate (30% superior, 57% inferior; p < 0.0001).

Conclusions: There are an increased number of inferior endplate fractures of the vertebral body immediately cephalad to the treated level.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomechanical Phenomena / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orthopedics / methods*
  • Osteoporosis / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Fractures / diagnosis*
  • Spinal Fractures / pathology