Originally Released: April 25, 1996
Patient / Consumer Inquiries: 1-800-492-5538
Media Contact: 410-328-8919
Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center are offering a new treatment using medical cement to help people who suffer chronic back pain from spinal fractures caused by osteoporosis. During the procedure, called percutaneous vertebroplasty, a sterile liquid cement is injected into the fractured vertebrae. The cement strengthens the collapsed vertebrae, relieving pressure and pain. The University of Maryland Medical Center is the first in the state to offer this treatment.
"This procedure alleviates pain quickly, within a matter of hours," says John Mathis, M.D., director of neuroradiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center. "My experience at the University of Virginia and subsequently at the University of Maryland, with vertebroplasty has been very positive. We've been able to significantly help people who otherwise may be bedridden with chronic pain."
Osteoporosis is a very common disorder affecting seven million people. It causes the loss of bone mineral, which makes the bones more fragile and they break easily. Those fractures are hard to heal. One of the areas most affected is the spine. Those most at risk are over age 50 or individuals taking certain drugs like steroids that accelerate bone mineral loss. Another 17 million women suffer from low bone density and are at risk of developing osteoporosis and bone fractures.
When vertebrae fracture in a person with osteoporosis, they partially collapse and the person loses height. Often, the break can cause back pain. The spinal cement helps stabilize the fractured vertebrae and keeps them from collapsing further, providing relief from pain.
Patients who are candidates for percutaneous vertebroplasty undergo CT tests to make sure their pain is caused by the fracture and not by any other back problem, such as a herniated disk or compression of the spinal cord. "We need to rule out any other associated cause of pain because this procedure has a very specific purpose, to alleviate pain caused by a fractured vertebrae," says Dr. Mathis.
Patients having the procedure receive a local anesthetic. The cement, which is the consistency of toothpaste, is injected into the spine with a needle. Doctors use X-rays to guide them. The cement then hardens after about 20 minutes and is permanent. Patients generally spend only one night in the hospital. The cement does not impair movement of the spine and patients can move normally once the cement is in place.
Centers Offering Percutaneous Vertebroplasty
University of Maryland Medical Center
22 S. Greene Street
Department of Radiology
Baltimore, MD 21201
John Mathis, M.D., M.Sc.
Gregg Zoarski, M.D.
University of Virginia Hospital
Lee Street, New Hospital
Department of Radiology
Charlottesville, VA 22908
Jacques Dion, M.D.
Mary Jensen, M.D.
For patient inquiries, call 1-800-492-5538 or click here to make an appointment.