Vertebroplasty: Benefits are more than risks in selected and evidence-based informed patients. A retrospective study of 59 cases

Giovanni Barbanti Brodano, Luca Amendola, Konstantinos Martikos, Camilla Bettuzzi, Luca Boriani, Alessandro Gasbarrini, Stefano Bandiera, Silvia Terzi, Tiziana Greggi, Stefano Boriani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vertebral compression fractures represent a frequent pathology among elderly population, with potentially devastating consequences. More than 20 years have passed since percutaneous vertebroplasty was initially used in the treatment of angiomas, representing nowadays a widely used treatment for osteoporotic vertebral fractures. The authors present a retrospective review of 59 consecutive patients (in total 94 fractured levels) that underwent polymethylmethacrylate percutaneous vertebroplasty for vertebral compression fractures due to senile or secondary osteoporosis. All fractures were free from neurologic involvement and were classified as A1 type according to Magerl classification. All of patients were initially treated conservatively, by application of orthosis that allows immediate deambulation. At control, patients who complained of pain and limitation of daily activities underwent MRI. If presence of marrow signal changes, especially hypertense signal in T2-weighted images was confirmed, percutaneous vertebroplasty procedure was performed (we could call it "sub-acute" procedure). A limited group of patients that did not tolerate brace and had an insufficient pain control underwent vertebroplasty "in acute", few days after fracture. Immediate post-operative pain reduction and follow-up clinical outcome (estimating quality of life and residual back pain) were evaluated by means of Visual Analogue Scale, SF-36 and Oswestry Disability Index. In the immediate post-operative course a significant pain relief was found in 39 patients (66.1%), moderate pain relief in 17 (28.8%), while 3 (5.1%) did not achieve relevant pain improvement. Pain intensity and life quality was maintained within satisfactory limits after a mean followup of 16 months. In conclusion, percutaneous vertebroplasty is an effective and safe procedure for treating vertebral compression fractures in the elderly. It provides immediate pain relief and allows early mobilization, thus avoiding potentially severe complications related to persistent back pain and prolonged bed rest. When performed by experienced surgeon complication rate is low, representing a safe procedure, able to provide a satisfactory outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1265-1271
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


  • Osteoporosis
  • Pain
  • Percutaneous vertebroplasty
  • Quality of life
  • Vertebral compression fractures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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