Vertebral Bone Marrow Edema (VBME) in Conservatively Treated Acute Vertebral Compression Fractures (VCFs): Evolution and Clinical Correlations

Andrea Piazzolla, Giuseppe Solarino, Claudio Lamartina, Silvana De Giorgi, Davide Bizzoca, Pedro Berjano, Nunzia Garofalo, Stefania Setti, Franca Dicuonzo, Biagio Moretti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study Design. Prospective observational study. Objective. To assess (1) the evolution of vertebral bone marrow edema (VBME) in patients with A1 vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) conservatively treated and (2) the relationship between VBME and clinical symptoms, evaluated as Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) back pain and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI). Summary of Background Data. VBME is a marker of acute-subacute vertebral fractures. Little is known about the evolution of VBME in conservatively managed VCFs, as well as its clinical meaning. Methods. 82 thoracic or lumbar VCFs (21 post-traumatic; 61 osteoporotic VCFs), type A1 according to the AOSpine thoracolumbar spine injury classification system, in 80 patients were treated with C35 hyperextension brace for 3 months, bed rest for the first 25 days. Patients with osteoporotic fractures also received antiresorptive therapy and vitamin D supplementation. At 0 (T0), 30 (T1), 60 (T2), and 90 (T3) days, patients underwent magnetic resonance imaging evaluation and clinical evaluation, using VAS for pain and ODI. The paired t test was used to compare changes within groups at each follow-up versus baseline. The unpaired t test after ANOVA (analysis of variance) was used to compare the 2 groups at each follow-up. The association between VBME area, VAS score, and ODI score was analyzed by the Pearson correlation test. The tests were 2-tailed with a confidence level of 5%. Results. A significant VBME mean area, VAS, and ODI scores reduction was recorded at 60 and 90-days follow-ups versus baseline. A positive correlation between VBME reduction and clinical symptoms improvement (VAS and ODI scores improvement) was found in both traumatic and osteoporotic VCFs. Conclusion. In benign A1 VCFs conservatively managed, VBME slowly decreases in the first 3 months of magnetic resonance imaging follow-up. This VBME reduction is related to clinical symptoms improvement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E842-E848
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 15 2015


  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • ODI
  • osteoporosis
  • spine
  • VAS
  • vertebral bone marrow edema (VBME)
  • vertebral compression fractures (VCFs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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