Studies show cement fix on spinal bones not effective

Written by Andrew Traub

August 6, 2009

A treatment that uses medical cement to fix cracks in the spinal bones of elderly people worked no better than a sham treatment, the first rigorous studies of the popular procedure show.

Pain and disability were about the same up to six months later.

The treatment is so widely thought to work that the researchers had a hard time getting patients to take part when it was explained that half of them would not get the real thing.

“All of us who do the procedure have seen apparently miraculous cures,” said Dr. David Kallmes, a radiologist at the Mayo Clinic who led one of the studies. But he said there were also “miraculous cures” among those who got the fake treatments.

The researchers said it is yet another example of a medical procedure coming into wide use before good studies are done to show that it is safe and effective.

About 750,000 Americans suffer painful compression fractures in the spine each year. Bone-thinning osteoporosis is the most common cause. There are about 80,000 bone cement procedures done in the United States each year, Kallmes said.

Medicare pays $1,500 to $2,100 for the procedure.

The findings were published in today’s New England Journal of Medicine.

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  1. jscavo412

    Before I read these comments I found a link that says the study results have been misinterpreted and actually show vertebroplasty DOES reduce back pain.

    I hope that mainstream media eager to jump on the Obama policy bandwagon are not poisoning public opinion before checking the real facts. If this one story negates 20 years of clinical research than the most vulnerable among us (pain ridden elderly osteo suffers) are going to continue to suffer is silence.

    We all should be checking facts before rushing to judgment.

  2. saraswat

    hi thanks for the information about spinal code fracture, its really painful.
    and medical cement does not work every time.
    but sometime it provide some relief to the patients.


    accident attorneys


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