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Vertebroplasty keeps goats kicking

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Vertebroplasty appears to be safe for people in their golden years, but as the range of applications expands and the age of eligibility grows younger, will the procedure stand the test of time? A new study of goats suggests it will.

Vertebroplasty appears to be safe for people in their golden years, but as the range of applications expands and the age of eligibility grows younger, will the procedure stand the test of time? A new study of goats suggests it will.

Dr. Jorrit Jan Verlaan, an orthopedic surgery resident from the University Medical Center in Utrecht, the Netherlands, examined the effect of two types of cement in traumatic fracture treatment, which is commonly performed in younger patients. Results were presented at the 2006 European Congress of Radiology.

Thirty animals underwent bilateral transpedicular vertebroplasty at two lumbar levels. Animals were injected with either polymethylmethacrylate or calcium phosphate cement, with and without direct contact with intervertebral material.

Follow-up at six months revealed no signs of disc or endplate degeneration and no decrease in the mean disc height. Overall, the study results are reassuring, given that vertebroplasty has been booming in popularity, said Verlaan. But he also sounded a cautionary note.

"A lot of promising techniques are being introduced into the clinic without appropriate trials. We should be very careful. Applications are rapidly expanding for vertebroplasty without any data on long-term effects," he said.

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