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British Orthopaedic Research Society (BORS)


Vertebroplasty is a minimal invasive surgical procedure for treatment of vertebral compressive fractures, whereby cement is injected percutaneously into a vertebral body. Cement viscosity is believed to influence injectability, cement wash-out and leakage. Altering the liquid to powder ratio can affect the viscosity, level of cohesion and extent cement fill within the vertebral body and the ultimately strength and stiffness of the cement-vertebra composite. The association of these combined factors remains unclear. The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between cement viscosity and the potential augmentation of strength and stiffness in a model simulating in-vitro prophylactic vertebroplasty of osteoporotic vertebral bodies.

Samples of synthetic bone (Sawbone) representing osteoporotic bone were manually injected with 1mL of calcium phosphate cement using a 11G cannulated needle. Calcium phosphate cement was produced by mixing alpha-tricalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate and hydroxyapatite with an aqueous solution of 5 wt% disodium hydrogen phosphate. Three liquid to powder ratio (LPR) representing different viscosity levels were used; i.e. 0.5mL/g (low viscosity), 0.45mL/g (medium viscosity) and 0.35mL/g (high viscosity). Cement filled samples were then placed in an oven (37oC) for 20 min and then immersed in Ringer's solution (37oC) for 3 days. Samples of synthetic bone without cement injection were used as controls.

Potential for leakage and wash-out was determined using gravimetric analysis. Extent of cement fill was determined using computer tomography (CT).

Samples were tested under axial compression at a rate of 1 mm/min and the strength and stiffness determined. Statistical significance against controls was determined using a one-way analysis of variance (p<0.05).

Low viscosity cement showed more cement leakage (p=0.512) and increased cement wash-out after 3 days in Ringer's solution (p=0.476). Qualitative assessment of cement fill within the vertebral body using CT imaging supported the wash-out results. The strength (p<0.05-0.01) and stiffness (p<0.01) of samples significantly increased by cement injection in comparison to control, the extent of this increase was greater with increasing cement viscosity.

Linear correlation analysis showed a definite association between the mechanical properties and viscosity of injected cement and was dependent on the amount of cement retained within the synthetic bone post-setting.