Percutaneous Vertebroplasty for Symptomatic Schmorl's Nodes: 11 Cases with Long-term Follow-up and a Literature Review

Pain Physician. 2017 Feb;20(2):69-76.


Background: Percutaneous vertebroplasty (PVP) is commonly used to treat symptomatic vertebral compression fractures. However, its long-term effectiveness and safety for use in the treatment of symptomatic Schmorl's nodes (SNs) refractory to conservative treatment is uncertain.

Objectives: To present a case series with PVP for symptomatic SNs not responding to conservative therapy and assess the effectiveness and safety for such treatment with long-term follow-up. To present a review of the literature regarding SNs and treatment options.

Study design: Single center retrospective observational study.

Setting: This study consists of patients from a large academic center in China.

Methods: Between January 2008 and December 2013, 11 patients suffering from symptomatic SNs that were refractory to medical or physical therapy, underwent PVP procedures in our department. All patients had a definitive diagnosis of SNs by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT). The visual analog scale (VAS) was assessed preoperatively at 4 hours, at one month, and every 6 months postoperatively during the long-term (mean: 58.0 months) follow-up period.

Results: Each of the 11 patients reported an immediate and distinct relief of their back pain. No one reported a worsening of symptoms. The VAS decreased from an average preprocedural score of 7.9 to a postprocedural score of 2.1 at 4 hours. The VAS averaged 1.8 during the mean follow-up period of 58.0 (range 24.1 to 98.9) months. There were no postoperative complications during the follow-up period. At the end of the follow-up period, all 11 patients were unrestricted in their activities.

Limitations: This study is a retrospective study with a small sample size.

Conclusions: PVP is an effective and safe procedure for the treatment of symptomatic SNs, which are refractory to medical or physical therapy.Key words: Percutaneous vertebroplasty, symptomatic Schmorl's nodes, vertebral endplate fracture, endplate osteonecrosis, Modic changes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fractures, Compression* / physiopathology
  • Fractures, Compression* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Pain Measurement
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Fractures / physiopathology
  • Spinal Fractures / surgery
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vertebroplasty*