Does the cement stiffness affect fatigue fracture strength of vertebrae after cement augmentation in osteoporotic patients?

Jan Philipp Kolb, Rebecca A. Kueny, Klaus Püschel, Andreas Boger, Johannes M. Rueger, Michael M. Morlock, Gerd Huber, Wolfgang Lehmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Normal progression of osteoporosis or the rigid reinforcement of the fractured vertebral body with polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) cement is being discussed as a cause for adjacent-level fractures after vertebroplasty. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether augmentation with low stiffness cement can decrease the risk of adjacent-level fractures in low-quality bone. 

Methods: Eighteen female osteoporotic lumbar specimens (L1-L5) were harvested and divided into three groups according to bone mineral density: (I) native; (II) PMMA; (III) modified PMMA (lower stiffness). For the PMMA and modified PMMA groups, a compression fracture was first mechanically induced in L3, and then the fracture received vertebroplasty treatment. The cement stiffness reduction of the modified PMMA group was achieved via an addition of 8 mL of serum to the typical PMMA base. All specimens were exposed to cyclic loading (4 Hz) and a stepwise increasing applied peak force. Cement stiffness was tested according to ISO 5833. 

Results: A 51 % decrease in cement stiffness was achieved in the modified PMMA group (954 ± 141 vs. 1,937 ± 478 MPa, p < 0.001). Fatigue fracture force (the force level during cyclic loading at which the deformation experienced a sudden increase; FFF) was significantly affected by bone quality (r 2 = 0.39, p = 0.006) and by the initial fracture force (the force necessary to create the initial fracture in L3 prior to augmentation; r 2 = 0.82, p < 0.001). Using initial fracture force as a covariate, the FFF of the modified PMMA group (1,764 ± 49 N) was significantly higher than in the PMMA group (1,544 ± 55 N; p = 0.03). 

Conclusions: A possible method to reduce adjacent-level fractures after vertebroplasty in patients with reduced bone quality could be the use of a lower modulus cement. Therefore, mixing cement with biocompatible fluids could prove useful to tailor cement properties in the operating theater.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1650-1656
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


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