Infiltrating osteoporotic cancellous bone with bone cement (vertebroplasty) is a novel surgical procedure to stabilize and prevent osteoporotic vertebral fractures. Short-term clinical and biomechanical results are encouraging; however, so far no reports on long-term results have been published. Our clinical observations suggest that vertebroplasty may induce subsequent fractures in the vertebrae adjacent to the ones augmented. At this point, there is only a limited understanding of what causes these fractures. We have previously hypothesized that adjacent fractures may result from a shift in stiffness and load following rigid augmentation. The purpose of this study is to determine the load shift in a lumbar motion segment following vertebroplasty. A finite-element (FE) model of a lumbar motion segment (L4-L5) was used to quantify and compare the pre- and post-augmentation stiffness and loading (load shift) of the intervertebral (IV) disc adjacent to the augmented vertebra in response to quasi-static compression. The results showed that the rigid cement augmentation underneath the endplates acted as an upright pillar that severely reduced the inward bulge of the end-plates of the augmented vertebra. The bulge of the augmented endplate was reduced to 7% of its value before the augmentation, resulting in a stiffening of the IV joint by approximately 17%, and of the whole motion segment by approximately 11%. The IV pressure accordingly increased by approximately 19%, and the inward bulge of the endplate adjacent to the one augmented (L4 inferior) increased considerably, by approximately 17%. This increase of up to 17% in the inward bulge of the endplate adjacent to the one augmented may be the cause of the adjacent fractures.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine