Vertebroplasty shows no antitumoral effect on vertebral metastasis: a case-based study on anatomopathological examinations

Alberto Balestrino, Stefano Boriani, Riccardo Cecchinato, Antonina Parafioriti, Marco Gambarotti, Alessandro Gasbarrini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: Percutaneous vertebroplasty (VTP) is a well-known surgical technique used for pain management and vertebral consolidation in the treatment of osteolytic metastases of the spine. While this indication is proven and commonly accepted, an antitumoral effect of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) has been proposed but not yet demonstrated. The aim of our study is to evaluate the evidences of antitumoral effect on anatomopathological examination. We present a small series of pathology findings after VTP for spine metastases that support the lack of antitumoral effect of PMMA.

METHODS: We have retrospectively analyzed three cases of patients treated for en bloc excision of recurrent spine metastases previously submitted elsewhere to VTP on the same levels. We discuss our results with the literature reporting of an antitumoral effect of VTP.

RESULTS: In our series, after anatomopathological examination, a cement-induced tumor necrosis was never found. Conversely, a foreign-body reaction around the cement was found, inside vital tumor. These results are consistent with an immune reaction to a foreign body without evidences of an antitumoral effect of PMMA.

CONCLUSION: The antitumoral effect of PMMA should not be taken into account as an indication for VTP in spinal metastases. It is important not to misuse VTP as a therapy aiming at tumor control. Other therapies such as radiotherapy, radiosurgery and open surgery are available for that purpose.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3157-3162
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
Issue number12
Early online dateAug 4 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Antitumoral effect
  • Cytotoxicity
  • PMMA
  • Spinal metastasis
  • Tumor
  • Vertebroplasty


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