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Vertebral augmentation in osteoporosis: common procedures for spinal fractures show no benefit

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 31 January 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l515
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

Two common surgical interventions for spinal fractures caused by osteoporosis are no more effective than placebo or sham surgery in bringing lasting relief from pain and disability, a taskforce of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research has concluded from a meta-analysis of existing studies.1

About 750 000 patients have such a fracture each year in the United States, and roughly a third of these experience acute pain and disability, although this often resolves after several months.

Over 30 000 patients a year are treated with “vertebral augmentation” therapies: mostly percutaneous vertebroplasty, where bone cement is injected into the vertebra; or kyphoplasty, where a balloon or bone tamp is introduced into …

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