Background: Painful vertebral compression fractures (VCFs), whether pathologic or osteoporotic, are a source of morbidity in cancer patients. At our tertiary cancer center, over the past decade we have used vertebroplasty (VP) and kyphoplasty (KP) to treat painful VCFs. More data are needed on the treatment of VCFs in cancer patients with these techniques.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of cancer patients with painful VCFs that had been treated at our institution between January 1, 2001 and May 31, 2008. Information was collected on demographic and clinical characteristics, features of the fractures, procedural details, and complications. Pre- and post-procedural pain and related symptoms were assessed using a subset of patients who had responded to the Brief Pain Inventory and the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale.
Results: A total of 407 cancer patients had 1,156 fractures that had been treated with VP or KP during 536 surgical procedures. Patients had an average of 2.8 fractures (range, 1-10). The majority of patients had pathologic fractures due to multiple myeloma (43%) or osteoporotic fractures (35%). Most fractures occurred in the thoracolumbar region. Adjacent-level fractures occurred in 18% of patients. Surgery provided significant relief from pain and several related symptoms. Symptomatic, serious complications requiring open surgery occurred in two cases (<0.01%) in our series.
Conclusions: Our single-center experience revealed that a large number of cancer patients suffer from painful VCFs. The use of VP or KP in treating painful VCFs in cancer patients has good efficacy and an acceptably low complication rate.
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