Groundbreaking research provides new hope for St George Private patients
Sep 10, 2016
A ST GEORGE PRIVATE doctor has received international recognition in one of the world’s most respected medical journals for a spinal procedure that has been found to significantly help Australians in severe pain.
The procedure known as vertebroplasty, which involves an injection of medical-grade bone cement into a fracture spinal bone, has been definitively proven to reduce pain and disability after a spinal fracture, according to the latest issue of The Lancet.
The trial was conducted in four hospitals across Sydney, including St George Private Hospital.
It found that vertebroplasty provides effective analgesic relief for patients suffering poorly controlled back pain from spinal fractures due to osteoporosis.
“Osteoporotic spinal fractures are very common as we live longer and can cause severe pain and disability for our finest generation” says St George Private Radiologist Dr William Clark who headed up the study.
“These fractures are often non-responsive to standard pain relief treatments and can be very debilitating, but now we have compelling evidence that vertebroplasty can help these patients.”
The study also found that patients stayed in hospital for 5.5 days less after the procedure, than those who didn’t have vertebroplasty.
Dr Clark said like many spinal treatments, vertebroplasty had a chequered history and was taken off the Medicare schedule in 2011, following the results of two studies which found vertebroplasty to be ineffective.
“However the problem with these two trials was that they studied patients with fractures that were up to 12 months old and had already healed. Even if the broken bone has healed in a deformed, crushed shape, it is not possible to fix it once the bone has hardened. For vertebroplasty to be effective, you need to treat these fractures when they are soft and fresh – within 6 weeks of the fracture pain beginning, before the fracture crushes down. In this patient group the procedure has been found to be highly effective.”
The trial has already received International recognition with The American Society of Spine Radiology, The American Society of Neuroradiology, the American Journal of Neuroradiology and The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists all endorsing the research by Dr Clark and colleagues.