Mechanical efficacy of vertebroplasty: Influence of cement type, BMD, fracture severity, and disc degeneration

J Luo, DM Skrzypiec, P Pollintine, MA Adams, DJ Annesley-Williams, P Dolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction Osteoporotic vertebral fractures can be treated by injecting bone cement into the damaged vertebral body. “Vertebroplasty” is becoming popular but the procedure has yet to be optimised. This study compared the ability of two different types of cement to restore the spine's mechanical properties following fracture, and it examined how the mechanical efficacy of vertebroplasty depends on bone mineral density (BMD), fracture severity, and disc degeneration. Methods A pair of thoracolumbar “motion-segments” (two adjacent vertebrae with intervening soft tissue) was obtained from each of 15 cadavers, aged 51–91 years. Specimens were loaded to induce vertebral fracture; then one of each pair underwent vertebroplasty with polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) cement, the other with another composite material (Cortoss). Specimens were creep loaded for 2 h to allow consolidation. At each stage of the experiment, motion segment stiffness in bending and compression was measured, and the distribution of compressive loading on the vertebrae was investigated by pulling a miniature pressure transducer through the intervertebral disc. Pressure measurements, repeated in flexed and extended postures, indicated the intradiscal pressure (IDP) and neural arch compressive load-bearing (FN). BMD was measured using DXA. Fracture severity was quantified from height loss. Results Vertebral fracture reduced motion segment stiffness in bending and compression, by 31% and 43% respectively (p <0.001). IDP fell by 43–62%, depending on posture (p <0.001), whereas FN increased from 14% to 37% of the applied load in flexion, and from 39% to 61% in extension (p <0.001). Vertebroplasty partially reversed all these effects, and the restoration of load-sharing was usually sustained after creep-consolidation. No differences were observed between PMMA and Cortoss. Pooled results from 30 specimens showed that low BMD was associated with increased fracture severity (in terms of height loss) and with greater changes in stiffness and load-sharing following fracture. Specimens with low BMD and more severe fractures also showed the greatest mechanical changes following vertebroplasty. Conclusions Low vertebral BMD leads to greater changes in stiffness and spinal load-sharing following fracture. Restoration of mechanical function following vertebroplasty is little influenced by cement type but may be greater in people with low BMD who suffer more severe fractures. Keywords: Vertebroplasty; Load-sharing; Stiffness; Cadaver; Spinal mechanics
Translated title of the contributionMechanical efficacy of vertebroplasty: Influence of cement type, BMD, fracture severity, and disc degeneration
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1110 - 1119
Number of pages10
Volume40 (4)
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Elsevier


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