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Doubts over surgical technique for osteoporosis fractures

Vertebroplasty – where bone cement is injected to treat painful osteoporotic vertebral fractures - is no better than a sham control, according to an Australian study.

The first randomised controlled trial of the technique, in 78 patients with unhealed osteoporotic vertebral fractures of less than twelve months duration, found similar improvements in pain, physical functioning and quality of life in those who received vertebroplasty, compared to those who received the control treatment.

After three months the reductions in the pain score in the vertebroplasty and control groups were 2.6 and 1.9 – a non-significant difference.

N Engl J Med 361;6: 557-68

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