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Surgical technique relieves painful spine fractures in patients with metastatic cancer
Date:10/9/2010

A surgical technique appears to offer quick and effective relief for debilitating spinal fractures often suffered by patients with metastatic cancer, researchers reported at the 35th Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) in Milan.

Many patients with multiple myeloma, or those whose cancer has spread beyond the initial tumor site, suffer compression fractures in their spine. This is partly because the spine is one of the most common sites for metastatic spread of the disease, making the vertebrae brittle and at risk for fractures. Widely-used cancer treatments such as corticoid treatment, hormone therapy, radiation therapy can also have a weakening effect on bone and increase the risk for fractures in these patients.

Professor Leonard Bastian from Klinikum Leverkusen in German led an international trial testing a new technique to treat these compression fractures, called balloon kyphoplasty.

"Balloon Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive surgical procedure to treat patients with painful vertebral compression fractures," Prof Bastian explained.

To perform the procedure, a surgeon inserts a small orthopedic balloon through a 1 cm incision into the fractured vertebra. Inflation of the balloon can restore the shape and height of the vertebrae. The balloon is then deflated and removed and a precise amount of quick-setting bone cement is injected in the vertebral body restoring the shape and strength of the vertebrae.

At the congress, Prof Bastian reported the results of a trial including 134 patients randomly assigned to either balloon kyphoplasty (70 patients) or non-surgical management (64).

Those who had the surgery showed improvements in a questionnaire designed to measure their level of disability at one month after surgery. They also experienced a significant improvement in back pain one week after surgery, while those who received non-surgical management saw no improvement.

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Contact: Vanessa Pavinato
media@esmo.org
European Society for Medical Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

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