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Vertebral Augmentation for Spinal Fractures

Vertebral Augmentation for Spinal Fractures

Medical management of vertebral compression fractures costs patients and healthcare systems nearly $14 billion annually, according to recent estimates. Percutaneous vertebroplasty and balloon kyphoplasty procedures are being used increasingly for the treatment of these osteoporotic fractures, but the effectiveness and safety of these options are unclear, especially with regard to long-term survival. “Recently, there have been concerns about whether healthcare funding agencies should support these vertebral augmentation procedures as treatment modalities,” says Richard L. Skolasky, ScD. “Evaluating the role of these surgeries on survival, complications, and other parameters may help determine optimal treatment methods.” New Research on Vertebral Augmentation Dr. Skolasky and colleagues had a study published in the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery that compared various aspects of the management of 69,000 Medicare patients in whom new vertebral compression fractures were treated with vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty, or non-operative modalities. The investigators examined differences in survival at 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, and 3 years in addition to complications, length of hospital stay, charges, 30-day readmission rates, and repeat procedures. According to the results, the overall survival rate for the entire study population was 77.8% at 1 year and 49.6% at 3 years. The kyphoplasty group had the highest survival rates at 1 and 3 years. Patients treated without surgery were hospitalized on average about 8 days longer than patients treated with surgery. However, total charges for kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty were $12,032 and $7,805 more than for non-operative treatment. There was no statistically significant difference in post-operative infections and neurologic complications between surgical and non-surgical patients. Surgically treated patients were less likely to be diagnosed with pneumonia or...

Managing VCFs in Cancer Patients

An international randomized control trial has found that kyphoplasty appears to be an effective and safe treatment that rapidly reduces pain and improves function for patients with cancer who have painful vertebral compression fractures (VCFs). The average scores on a disability scale for patients receiving kyphoplasty for VCFs changed from 17.6 at baseline to 9.1 at 1 month. Conversely, the average scores on the scale for the control group changed from 18.2 to...
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