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Cement 'cuts spine fracture deaths'
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PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2011 9:11 am 
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Location: Hampshire
Thousands of deaths could be prevented by injecting a type of cement into the spinal column after a fracture, research has found.

Experts looking into two similar procedures found both cut death rates after a vertebral fracture by 44%.

Where no such operation took place, 30% of patients died two years after the fracture through complications such as infections or blood clots.

The fractures are mostly caused by osteoporosis, which make the bones more brittle, and over 230,000 Britons are affected every year.

Researchers, who presented their work at the spring meeting of the British Geriatric Society in Liverpool last week, looked at two procedures that are only mildly invasive and give the spinal column more strength and stability through injecting the cement.

Balloon kyphoplasty (BKP) inflates balloons to create spaces which are filled with cement, while vertebroplasty is similar but does not use balloons. Both are relatively new and their safety and effectiveness are still under scrutiny.

The new trial looked at death rates over two years among around 400,000 US patients diagnosed with vertebral osteoporotic compression fractures. They either had one of the procedures or were prescribed bed rest and painkillers.

Overall the procedures were associated with a 'significant reduction' in mortality of 44%. After two years, almost three quarters of those who underwent surgery were still alive.

Comparing the procedures showed that around 12% fewer patients died after BKP.

The UK's treatment watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), is examining the new evidence, and the treatment is not yet available on the NHS.

http://www.ageuk.org.uk/


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