Percutaneous vertebroplasty for osteoporotic vertebral compression fracture

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Nov 6;11(11):CD006349. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006349.pub4.


Background: Percutaneous vertebroplasty remains widely used to treat osteoporotic vertebral fractures although our 2015 Cochrane review did not support its role in routine practice.

Objectives: To update the available evidence of the benefits and harms of vertebroplasty for treatment of osteoporotic vertebral fractures.

Search methods: We updated the search of CENTRAL, MEDLINE and Embase and trial registries to 15 November 2017.

Selection criteria: We included randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of adults with painful osteoporotic vertebral fractures, comparing vertebroplasty with placebo (sham), usual care, or another intervention. As it is least prone to bias, vertebroplasty compared with placebo was the primary comparison. Major outcomes were mean overall pain, disability, disease-specific and overall health-related quality of life, patient-reported treatment success, new symptomatic vertebral fractures and number of other serious adverse events.

Data collection and analysis: We used standard methodologic procedures expected by Cochrane.

Main results: Twenty-one trials were included: five compared vertebroplasty with placebo (541 randomised participants), eight with usual care (1136 randomised participants), seven with kyphoplasty (968 randomised participants) and one compared vertebroplasty with facet joint glucocorticoid injection (217 randomised participants). Trial size varied from 46 to 404 participants, most participants were female, mean age ranged between 62.6 and 81 years, and mean symptom duration varied from a week to more than six months.Four placebo-controlled trials were at low risk of bias and one was possibly susceptible to performance and detection bias. Other trials were at risk of bias for several criteria, most notably due to lack of participant and personnel blinding.Compared with placebo, high- to moderate-quality evidence from five trials indicates that vertebroplasty provides no clinically important benefits with respect to pain, disability, disease-specific or overall quality of life or treatment success at one month. Evidence for quality of life and treatment success was downgraded due to possible imprecision. Evidence was not downgraded for potential publication bias as only one placebo-controlled trial remains unreported. Mean pain (on a scale zero to 10, higher scores indicate more pain) was five points with placebo and 0.7 points better (0.3 better to 1.2 better) with vertebroplasty, an absolute pain reduction of 7% (3% better to 12% better, minimal clinical important difference is 15%) and relative reduction of 10% (4% better to 17% better) (five trials, 535 participants). Mean disability measured by the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (scale range zero to 23, higher scores indicate worse disability) was 14.2 points in the placebo group and 1.5 points better (0.4 better to 2.6 better) in the vertebroplasty group, absolute improvement 7% (2% to 11% better), relative improvement 9% better (2% to 15% better) (four trials, 472 participants).Disease-specific quality of life measured by the Quality of Life Questionnaire of the European Foundation for Osteoporosis (QUALEFFO) (scale zero to 100, higher scores indicating worse quality of life) was 62 points in the placebo group and 2.3 points better (1.4 points worse to 6.7 points better), an absolute imrovement of 2% (1% worse to 6% better); relative improvement 4% better (2% worse to 10% better) (three trials, 351 participants). Overall quality of life (European Quality of Life (EQ5D), zero = death to 1 = perfect health, higher scores indicate greater quality of life) was 0.38 points in the placebo group and 0.05 points better (0.01 better to 0.09 better) in the vertebroplasty group, absolute improvement: 5% (1% to 9% better), relative improvement: 18% (4% to 32% better) (three trials, 285 participants). In one trial (78 participants), 9/40 (or 225 per 1000) people perceived that treatment was successful in the placebo group compared with 12/38 (or 315 per 1000; 95% CI 150 to 664) in the vertebroplasty group, RR 1.40 (95% CI 0.67 to 2.95), absolute difference: 9% more reported success (11% fewer to 29% more); relative change: 40% more reported success (33% fewer to 195% more).Low-quality evidence (downgraded due to imprecision and potential for bias from the usual-care controlled trials) indicates uncertainty around the risk estimates of harms with vertebroplasty. The incidence of new symptomatic vertebral fractures (from six trials) was 48/418 (95 per 1000; range 34 to 264)) in the vertebroplasty group compared with 31/422 (73 per 1000) in the control group; RR 1.29 (95% CI 0.46 to 3.62)). The incidence of other serious adverse events (five trials) was 16/408 (34 per 1000, range 18 to 62) in the vertebroplasty group compared with 23/413 (56 per 1000) in the control group; RR 0.61 (95% CI 0.33 to 1.10). Notably, serious adverse events reported with vertebroplasty included osteomyelitis, cord compression, thecal sac injury and respiratory failure.Our subgroup analyses indicate that the effects did not differ according to duration of pain (acute versus subacute). Including data from the eight trials that compared vertebroplasty with usual care in a sensitivity analyses altered the primary results, with all combined analyses displaying considerable heterogeneity.

Authors' conclusions: We found high- to moderate-quality evidence that vertebroplasty has no important benefit in terms of pain, disability, quality of life or treatment success in the treatment of acute or subacute osteoporotic vertebral fractures in routine practice when compared with a sham procedure. Results were consistent across the studies irrespective of the average duration of pain.Sensitivity analyses confirmed that open trials comparing vertebroplasty with usual care are likely to have overestimated any benefit of vertebroplasty. Correcting for these biases would likely drive any benefits observed with vertebroplasty towards the null, in keeping with findings from the placebo-controlled trials.Numerous serious adverse events have been observed following vertebroplasty. However due to the small number of events, we cannot be certain about whether or not vertebroplasty results in a clinically important increased risk of new symptomatic vertebral fractures and/or other serious adverse events. Patients should be informed about both the high- to moderate-quality evidence that shows no important benefit of vertebroplasty and its potential for harm.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bone Cements / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Fractures, Compression / therapy*
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporotic Fractures / therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Spinal Fractures / therapy*
  • Vertebroplasty / adverse effects
  • Vertebroplasty / methods*


  • Bone Cements
  • Glucocorticoids