Pain Relief Treatment for Spinal Compression Fractures Related to
Osteoporosis Pioneered at University of Virginia
inquiries: (804) 924-5679
5, 1999 -- People who have prolonged and debilitating
pain associated with compression fractures in their spinal vertebrae
may be able to find relief with a procedure pioneered in the United
States at the University
of Virginia Health System.
procedure, known as vertebroplasty, involves injecting bone cement
into the vertebrae where a compression fracture exists, stabilizing
the fracture and relieving the pain. Vertebral fractures are most
often the result of osteoporosis.
is a smart healthcare decision for patients who are good candidates
for the procedure," said Dr. Lee Jensen, associate professor of
radiology at U.Va. "We have found that relieving patients of their
pain and enabling them to get out of bed and on with their lives
is not only healthier physically and mentally, but makes good economic
typical vertebroplasty usually costs less than $1,000 which is significantly
less than would be spent on skilled nursing care alone when a patient
is confined to his or her bed for the number of weeks that prior
treatment options required."
the development of this technique, the only treatment for these
patients was wearing a brace, taking analgesics and bed rest. This
ongoing treatment was often as life altering as the condition itself.
Now, we are able to offer patients a minimally-invasive treatment
that can provide significant pain relief and give them back their
mobility, she said.
to the procedure, radiologists use X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging
(MRI) and bone scans to find the fracture or fractures which are
causing the pain. When the area is located and confirmed, the bone
cement is injected into the vertebrae under X-ray guidance using
a hollow needle. The patient remains on bed rest for several hours,
allowing the cement to harden.
was originally introduced in France during the 1980s. In the United
States, Jensen and her colleagues at the University of Virginia
introduced the technique in 1993, and to date have performed approximately
115 procedures. Due to an increasing interest from doctors and patients,
Jensen and her team have trained 300 doctors across the country,
including Dr. Timothy Maus, a radiologist at the Mayo Clinic.
outcome of the patients we have treated has been very encouraging,"
Maus said. "As the population ages, this condition will become more
common. Vertebroplasty, when used as part of a comprehensive treatment
plan that includes management of the underlying cause and rehabilitation,
can bring great pain relief at modest cost and modest risk."
is estimated that osteoporosis affects more than 10 million individuals
in the United States, 80 percent of whom are women. An additional
18 million people have low bone mass which places them at increased
risk for osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is also responsible for more
than 1.5 million fractures each year including 700,000 vertebral
information on vertebroplasty can be found on the web site www.vertebroplasty.org