The effectiveness of the medical procedure vertebroplasty - for repairing spinal fractures - has been in the spotlight recently, after a scientific review concluded it provides little benefit for patients.

Vertebroplasty involves injecting medical-grade cement into a fractured vertebra through a needle, under light sedation or general anaesthesia.

The procedure has been widely used to treat osteoporotic vertebral fractures, but now a new Cochrane review of existing evidence has said it has no beneficial effect, and may even cause harm.

“There is now high quality evidence that there are no clinically important benefits over a placebo (fake) procedure, although there is potential to cause harm,” said lead author of the review Professor Rachelle Buchbinder.

However, the findings of the new review differ from recommendations from health watchdog the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which recommends the procedure in certain circumstances, including for people with severe pain and with unhealed vertebral fractures.

Ali Doyle, Head of Clinical Practice at the National Osteoporosis Society said the Cochrane review was an interesting addition to general understanding of vertebroplasty.

“While these are interesting findings, they do illustrate that more research is needed in this area. NICE does still recommend the procedure and health professionals and their patients should approach vertebroplasty very much on an individual basis.”

Source: National Osteoporosis Society 


For further information on osteoporosis please go to our osteoporosis page.