Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Upper Spine FAQ

Question:

My 83-year old father is going to have a vertebroplasty for two fractured vertebrae. The doctor has warned us there's a risk of re-fracture. Is that from the procedure or just because he's already frail?

Answer:

That is a good question. The answer isn't really one or the other. It's probably both. Studies show a higher rate of vertebral fractures in the year following a vertebroplasty compared to patients with the same problem who don't have the vertebroplasty.

It looks like increasing age, rate of falling, and other health issues add to the risk of re-fracture. Early studies reported as high as 52 percent chance of refracture after a vertebroplasty. Those numbers seem to be declining quickly as doctors gain experience with this treatment option.

Fergus McKiernan, MD et al. Quality of Life Following Vertebroplasty. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. December 2004. Vol. 86-A. No. 12. Pp. 2600-2605.

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