Looking back Watson, it may have seemed too good to be true. There were the usual clues.</P>For instance, in 1997, an early report on the treatment of 47 osteoporotic compression fractures with the new vertebroplasty technique  found that patients who had severe pain did well, incredibly well. In fact, 90% had pain relief within 24 hours. In short order, another group reported “ complete pain relief” in 78% of patients with osteoporotic compression fractures treated with vertebroplasty  . Not to be outdone, a third group in 1998 reported “immediate … complete relief of symptoms” in 90% of 80 patients with osteoporosis treated with vertebroplasty  . Onward and upward, an arms race for more and more fantastic results, no control groups need apply.</P>Within a short period of time, vertebroplasty for osteoporotic compression fractures had become extremely common. Podium presentations, including those at North American Spine Society (NASS)'s annual meeting, sometimes described thousands of vertebroplasties performed; comically good results were confidently proclaimed amid a stroboscopic flashing of radiographs depicting expertly placed cement; brief, blurred slides causally confirmed complications so rare that venipuncture seemed more hazardous. Impressive case series abounded. Superior outcomes were claimed to last for 6
The Spine Journal – Elsevier
Published: Mar 1, 2010
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