Background: The majority of the 700,000 osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) that occur annually in the United States affect women. The total treatment costs exceed $17 billion and approximate the total costs of breast cancer ($13 billion) and heart disease ($19 billion). Balloon-assisted percutaneous vertebral augmentation with bone cement (kyphoplasty) reportedly reduces VCF-related pain and accelerates return of independent functional mobility. Kyphoplasty may decrease overall cost of VCF treatment costs by reducing use of posttreatment medical resources.
Questions/purposes: We evaluated complications, mortality, posthospital disposition, and treatment costs of kyphoplasty compared with nonoperative treatment using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample database.
Methods: We identified 5766 VCFs (71% female) in patients 65 years of age or older with nonneoplastic VCF as the primary diagnosis in nonroutine hospital admissions; 15.3% underwent kyphoplasty. Demographic data, medical comorbidities, and fracture treatment type were recorded. Outcomes, including complications, mortality, posthospital disposition, and treatment costs, were compared for each treatment type.
Results: Women were more likely to be treated with kyphoplasty than were men. Patients undergoing kyphoplasty had comorbidity indices equivalent to those treated nonoperatively. Kyphoplasty was associated with a greater likelihood of routine discharge to home (38.4% versus 21.0% for nonoperative treatment), a lower rate of discharge to skilled nursing (26.1% versus 34.8%) or other facilities (35.7% versus 47.1%), a complication rate equivalent to nonoperative treatment (1.7% versus 1.0%), and a lower rate of in-hospital mortality (0.3% versus 1.6%). Kyphoplasty was associated with higher cost of hospitalization (mean $37,231 versus $20,112).
Conclusions: Kyphoplasty for treatment of VCF in well-selected patients may accelerate the return of independent patient function as indicated by improved measures of hospital discharge. The initially higher cost of treatment may be offset by the reduced use of posthospital medical resources.
Level of evidence: Level III, therapeutic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.