Background context: Vertebroplasty was developed to mechanically reinforce weakened vertebral bodies. Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) bone cement has been most commonly used but carries risks of thermal injury and respiratory and cardiovascular complications. Calcium phosphate (CaP) offers the potential for biological resorption and replacement with new bone, restoring vertebral body mass and height.
Purpose: To compare compressive strength, elastic modulus of the adjacent motion segments, and histologic response of vertebral bodies injected with either CaP or PMMA in a canine vertebroplasty model.
Study design: By using a canine vertebroplasty model, two level vertebroplasties were performed at L1 and L3 and studied for 1 month (n=10) and 6 months (n=10). In each canine, one vertebral defect was randomly injected with either CaP cement (BoneSource; Stryker, Freiberg, Germany) or PMMA.
Methods: Twenty dogs had an iatrogenically created cavitary lesion at two nonadjacent levels injected with either CaP or PMMA. Canines from each group were tested mechanically (n=5) and histologically (n=5). Histology consisted of axial sections of the L1 and L3 vertebral bodies and high-resolution contact radiographs. Sections from each specimen were embedded in plastic without decalcification to study the bone-cement interface. Bone-cement interfaces were compared for evidence of necrosis, fibrosis, foreign body response, cement resorption, and new bone formation between the PMMA and CaP treatments groups. Mechanical compression testing was performed on specimens from the 1-month (n=5) and 6-month (n=5) time periods. The T13 vertebral body was used as an intact control for the destructive compression testing of L1 and L3. Each vertebral body was compressed to 50% of its original height under displacement control at 15 mm/min to simulate a nontraumatic loading situation. Force and displacement data were recorded in real time.
Results: Vertebral sites containing PMMA were characterized by a thin fibrous membrane. PMMA was detected within the trabeculae, vascular channels, and the spinal canal. Unlike PMMA, CaP underwent resorption and remodeling with vascular invasion and bone ingrowth. Woven and lamellar bone was found on the CaP cement surface, within the remodeled material, and on the surrounding trabeculae. Vertebral body compression strength testing revealed no significant difference in vertebral body height and compressive strength between PMMA and CaP. There was a trend for CaP-treated vertebrae to increase in compressive strength from 1 month to 6 months, whereas PMMA decreased compressive strength when compared with adjacent nontreated vertebrae.
Conclusion: For both short and intermediate time periods, the injection of CaP cement can be an effective method to treat large vertebral defects. Early results indicate that CaP remodeling might result in the resorption of the majority of the cement with replacement by lamellar bone.