Study: Vertebroplasty Similar to Placebo

Questioning a Common Treatment for Osteoporosis-related Fractures

Each year, thousands of Americans undergo a procedure called vertebroplasty to treat osteoporosis-related fractures. However, a study released in an August 2009 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine questions the true effectiveness of the treatment.

IV DripResearchers found that vertebroplasty delivered similar results as a placebo procedure. The study was based on 131 patients who received either actual vertebroplasty treatment or simulated (fake) vertebroplasty.

Participants in both groups were hooked to an IV and received sedation and injections to reduce pain.

The vertebroplasty group received the full vertebroplasty treatment, complete with cement injections to the fractured vertebrae.

The simulated group, however, did not receive the cement injection. To ensure that patients believed they were receiving the actual treatment, the doctors duplicated the sensation of the injection on the patients.

A month after treatment, the patients in the real vertebroplasty group had no significant difference in pain to those who received the fake procedure. Both groups reported experiencing improvements in pain.

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Updated on: 08/25/15
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