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PURPOSE: To determine the efficacy and durability of percutaneous vertebroplasty for the treatment of back pain associated with vertebral body compression fractures.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: One hundred patients (79 women, 21 men; mean age, 73.7 y) underwent 156 percutaneous injections of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) into a vertebra (68 thoracic and 88 lumbar) under fluoroscopic guidance over a 35-month period. Before the procedure and at follow-up, patients were asked to quantify their pain on a visual analog scale (VAS) and complete a follow-up questionnaire of our own design.

RESULTS: The procedure was technically successful in all patients. There were two complications. One patient sustained a sternal fracture and one experienced a transient radiculopathy. Ninety-seven patients (97%) reported significant pain relief 24 hours after treatment. Mean follow-up duration was 21.5 months (6-44 mo) in 99 patients. Ninety-two patients (93%) reported significant improvement in back pain previously associated with their compression fractures as well as improved ambulatory ability. Before vertebroplasty, the VAS score for the 99 patients was 8.91 /- 1.12 compared to a score of 2.02 /- 1.95 at follow-up. The mean difference in VAS scores was significant (P < .0001).

CONCLUSION: Percutaneous vertebroplasty of symptomatic vertebral body compression fractures is a minimally invasive procedure that provides immediate and sustained pain relief in patients with refractory pain.

(C) Copyright 2002 Society of Cardiovascular & Interventional Radiology