Dr. Kevin Ong on recent mortality data for spine fracture patients


A spine fracture leads to a downward spiral of complications for elderly people, often resulting in death.

"What we found [in Lau et al., 2008 research] is that in the U.S. elderly population, at five years after you get a spine fracture, 69 percent of the patients pass away," says Kevin L. Ong, PhD, PE, principal engineer of Exponent and adjunct member of Drexel University's School of Biomedical Engineering in Philadelphia.


Dr. Ong presented on recent mortality data for elderly patients with vertebral compression fractures (VCF) at the American Society of Spine Radiology meeting in San Diego, held from Feb. 23 to 26, 2017. He emphasized the associated risk of death following spine fractures is extremely high.


Various treatment methods exist for VCF patients, such as vertebroplasty and balloon kyphoplasty. Dr. Ong and his colleagues examined five studies to assess whether surgical treatment was associated with reducing risk of death for VCF patients. The studies each included more than 1,000 spine fracture patients with 12-month follow-up.


"The conclusion is that the majority of these studies show that having surgical treatment with vertebroplasty and balloon kyphoplasty [results in] a statistically significantly lower risk of mortality than patients who did not get surgical intervention," says Dr. Ong.


Four of the studies found patients receiving balloon kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty experienced a lower mortality risk of up to 43 percent at five-years follow-up, compared to patients receiving non-surgical management.


The evidence further showed balloon kyphoplasty patients experience an even lower risk of mortality compared to vertebroplasty patients. The Edidin A. et al. study utilized Medicare data from 2005 to 2008 to assess the mortality risk for VCF patients receiving non-operated management, balloon kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty. Balloon kyphoplasty patients experienced a lower adjusted risk of mortality by 23 percent compared to vertebroplasty patients.


In 2013, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence issued guidelines on vertebroplasty and balloon kyphoplasty, recommending the treatments for osteoporotic spine fractures.


"They believe that treatment does improve the survival of spine fracture patients because of the associated improvement in biomechanical factors from treatment," says Dr. Ong.


He hopes surgeons will consider the data demonstrating mortality benefits of leveraging vertebral augmentation for spine fracture treatment, especially balloon kyphoplasty.



BKP is a minimally invasive procedure for the treatment of pathological fractures of the vertebral body due to osteoporosis, cancer, or benign lesion. Keep in mind that results of this procedure may vary, and all treatment and outcome results are specific to the individual patient. Results may vary. A prescription is required. The complication rate for balloon kyphoplasty has been demonstrated to be low.


There are risks associated with the procedure, including serious complications, and though rare, some of which may be fatal. These include, but are not limited to heart attack, cardiac arrest (heart stops beating), stroke, and embolism (blood, fat or cement that migrates to the lungs, heart, or brain). Other complications include infection and leakage of bone cement into the muscle and tissue. Cement leakage into the blood vessels may result in damage to the blood vessels, lungs, heart, and/or brain. Cement leakage into the area surrounding the spinal cord may result in nerve injury that can, in rare instances, cause paralysis.


Please consult your physician for a complete list of indications, contraindications, benefits, and risks. Only you and your physician can determine whether this procedure is right for you.


Learn more about osteoporosis, visit www.nof.org.
Learn more about spine fracture at spine-facts.com.


Balloon Kyphoplasty incorporates technology developed by Gary K. Michelson, M.D.

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