As many as 70% of patients with cancer and multiple myeloma initially present with osteolytic involvement of the spine. These vertebral fractures are associated with significant morbidity and mortality and represent a tremendous personal and societal burden. Traditional medical and surgical options often are inadequate or too invasive for this population debilitated by cancer. Vertebroplasty involves the injection of polymethylmethaerylate to strengthen a vertebra. This minimally invasive method, which has been adopted by practitioners during the past decade to treat symptomatic osteoporotic compression fractures is reported to provide quick pain relief in 90% of patients, with only infrequent, mostly minor, complications. In patients with osteolytic fractures, vertebroplasty is associated with an increased rate of cement leak and less predictable pain relief. Kyphoplasty is an extension of vertebroplasty that uses an inflatable bone tamp to restore the vertebral body toward its original height while creating a cavity to be filled with bone cement. Preliminary data indicate that kyphoplasty is a safe procedure associated with a lower risk of cement leak, restoration of vertebral body height, and sagittal spinal alignment. In patients with osteolytic fractures secondary to multiple myeloma, kyphoplasty yields quick pain relief, and is associated with a statistically significant improvement in generic health outcome measures.

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