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August 2019 (Vol. 4 Issue 6)

Osteoporosis surgery should be stopped, researchers say
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Osteoporosis surgery should be stopped, researchers say image

Osteoporosis sufferers are often recommended vertebroplasty, a surgical procedure where special cement is injected into a fractured bone—but it doesn't work and is no better than a sham treatment, new research has discovered.

It doesn't relieve pain or improve the sufferer's mobility, and it shouldn't be offered to osteoporosis patients who've suffered spinal fractures, known as vertebral compression fractures, say researchers from Southampton General Hospital in the UK.

The researchers tested vertebroplasty against a sham treatment—where patients went through the surgical process, but cement wasn't injected into the bone—on a group of 180 osteoporosis sufferers, who had between one and three vertebral compression fractures. Ninety-one patients had the proper procedure, and the other 89 had the sham treatment.

The researchers tested pain levels immediately after treatment, and up to 12 months later, and quality of life and general disability—but there was no difference between those who had vertebroplasty and the rest who had the sham procedure.

The treatment shouldn't be offered to osteoporosis sufferers other than "in exceptional circumstances", the researchers say.


References

(Source: BMJ, 2018; doi: 10.1136/bmj.k1551)

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