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J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2012 Jun;94(6):815-20. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.94B6.28368.

Percutaneous vertebroplasty for subacute and chronic painful osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures can safely be undertaken in the first year after the onset of symptoms.

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Leiden University Medical Centre, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Albinusdreef 2, 2333 ZA Leiden, The Netherlands.


The optimal timing of percutaneous vertebroplasty as treatment for painful osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures (OVCFs) is still unclear. With the position of vertebroplasty having been challenged by recent placebo-controlled studies, appropriate timing gains importance. We investigated the relationship between the onset of symptoms - the time from fracture - and the efficacy of vertebroplasty in 115 patients with 216 painful subacute or chronic OVCFs (mean time from fracture 6.0 months (sd 2.9)). These patients were followed prospectively in the first post-operative year to assess the level of back pain and by means of health-related quality of life (HRQoL). We also investigated whether greater time from fracture resulted in a higher risk of complications or worse pre-operative condition, increased vertebral deformity or the development of nonunion of the fracture as demonstrated by the presence of an intravertebral cleft. It was found that there was an immediate and sustainable improvement in the level of back pain and HRQoL after vertebroplasty, which was independent of the time from fracture. Greater time from fracture was associated with neither worse pre-operative conditions nor increased vertebral deformity, nor with the presence of an intravertebral cleft. We conclude that vertebroplasty can be safely undertaken at an appropriate moment between two and 12 months following the onset of symptoms of an OVCF.

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