A double-blind study release on August 5, 2009 in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that vertebroplasty a procedure that involves the injection of medical cement into the spines of patients who have spinal fractures proved only equally effective as simulated vertebroplasty with no spinal cement injection. One group of patients received the actual vertebroplasty procedure, and the control group received a mock procedure including everything but the cement injections into their spines.
The study’s leader, Dr. David Kallmes, said that while vertebroplasty has been long accepted and utilized as a treatment option for many years, there has been no data or research to verify its effectiveness. The findings of the study conducted by a team of researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN showed that relief of pain and improvement in dysfunctions related to the pain proceeded similarly in both the group of patients who received the vertebroplasty and the control group who did not. The progress of the patients involved in the study will continue to be monitored over the course of one year, after which the comprehensive results of the study will be published.
The study was partially motivated by doctors’ concerns that the cement injections into patients’ spines could potentially increase the risk of future spinal cord injuries. Dr. Kallmes was careful to add that vertebroplasty does actually work. However, scientists and doctors may be able to achieve similar results without the potentially dangerous cement injections.
Kallmes was quoted in a EurekAlert article speculating that the improvements recorded in the control group could be the result of, ”¦local anesthesia, sedation, patient expectations, or other factors.’Â He also advised patients to seek professional advice before deciding on treatment options. Many other studies related to treatment for spinal fractures are currently underway at the Mayo Clinic. They will be reported on as the studies and their findings are published.
Many other institutions were involved in the vertebroplasty study, including: the University of Washington, Seattle; Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre NHS Trust, Oxford, UK; St. George Hospital, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia; Gartnavel General Hospital, Glasgow, UK; Department of Social Medicine, Bristol, UK; Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust, UK; and Western General Hospital, University of Edinburgh, UK.
The huge amount of global attention dedicated to improving conditions for spinal cord injury patients is encouraging. Their dedication is producing constant improvements in the quality of care and effectiveness of treatments around the world.
(pic from spineuniverse)