Bone Cement to Treat Bone Fractures
Osteoporosis affects more than 10 million Americans each year. The condition causes brittle bones, which often results in painful fractures. Now doctors are using something known as “bone cement” to patch the problem.
It’s the little things that Mona Edge enjoys most. “I’m very independent and used to doing things for myself,” she says. House and yard work became almost impossible when Mona fractured her spine. She’s not sure how it happened. “I got out of bed or got up from a chair or something, and it just hit me, and I couldn’t even straighten up,” says Mona.
Until now, doctors told patients like Mona to rest, take pain relief medicine and wear a brace. Instead, Mona had a procedure first developed in France called vertebroplasty. Jacques Dion, M.D., a radiologist at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., is one of the first to use it in America.
Dr. Dion says, “The aim is to replace the inside of the bones, the vertebro bodies, with strong material — the bone cement.”
Patients are given an anesthetic to keep them pain-free, calm and awake. Wet, acrylic cement is injected directly into vertebrae damaged by osteoporosis. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to harden and fill in the cracks.
“It’s that rapid that patients are typically treated on an outpatient basis,” says Dr. Dion. Now, an estimated 100 clinics in the United States perform the technique.
Mona says it gave her her life back.
Researchers estimate at least 25 percent of women over age 50 will suffer one or more vertebral fractures. Trauma, rather than age, is more likely to cause them in men. Steroid medications or cancer may also cause vertebral fractures. The Food and Drug Administration approved bone cement for use in some surgeries, but it is not approved for use through injections.