New pain relief treatment for spinal compression fractures related to osteoporosis available at Mayo Clinic

ROCHESTER, MINN. -- People who have prolonged and debilitating pain associated with compression fractures in their spinal vertebrae may be able to find relief with a procedure now being offered at Mayo Clinic.

The procedure, known as vertebroplasty (ver-TEE-bro-plasty), involves injecting bone cement into the vertebrae where a compression fracture exists, stabilizing the fracture and relieving the pain.

"The outcome of the patients we have treated has been very encouraging," says Timothy Maus, M.D., a Mayo Clinic radiologist. "Before development of this technique, the only treatment for these patients was wearing a brace, taking analgesics and bed rest. This ongoing treatment was often as life altering as the condition itself. Now, we are able to offer patients a minimally-invasive treatment that can provide significant pain relief and give them back their mobility."

Prior to the procedure, radiologists use X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and bone scans to find the fracture or fractures which are causing the pain. When the area is located and confirmed, the bone cement is injected into the vertebrae under X-ray guidance using a hollow needle. The bone cement hardens within 15 minutes and the patient remains on bed rest anywhere from two to several hours.

Vertebral fractures are most often the result of osteoporosis. "As the population ages, this condition will become more common," says Dr. Maus. "Vertebroplasty, when used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes management of the underlying cause and rehabilitation, can bring great pain relief at modest cost and modest risk."

Vertebroplasty was originally introduced in France during the 1980s. In the United States, Mary Jensen, M.D. and Jacques Dion, M.D. (now of Emory University) pioneered the technique at the University of Virginia.

"Vertebroplasty is a smart healthcare decision for patients who are good candidates for the procedure," says Dr. Jensen. "

Contact: Jane Jacobs
Mayo Clinic

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