Surgery to repair spinal fractures is no more effective for pain relief than a sham (placebo) procedure in older patients with osteoporosis, finds a trial published by The BMJ in May 2018.
Vertebroplasty (Surgery to repair spinal fractures) involves injecting a special cement into the fractured bone to stabilise it and to relieve pain. But previous studies have reported conflicting results and there is ongoing debate about its benefits, risks, and cost-effectiveness.
To try to resolve this uncertainty, researchers in the Netherlands and the USA compared pain relief in patients undergoing vertebroplasty or a ‘sham’ procedure, where patients are given local anaesthetic injections, but no bone cement.
“Percutaneous vertebroplasty to treat patients with acute osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures did not result in statistically significant more pain relief than a sham procedure during 12 months’ follow-up,” say the researchers.