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Biomechanical Evaluation of an Injectable Calcium Phosphate Cement for Vertebroplasty

Lim, Tae-Hong, PhD*; Brebach, Gregory T., MD*; Renner, Susan M., MS; Kim, Whoan-Jeang, MD; Kim, Jesse G., MS; Lee, Richard E., BS*; Andersson, Gunnar B. J., MD, PhD*; An, Howard S., MD*


Study Design. Destructive biomechanical tests using fresh cadaveric thoracolumbar vertebral bodies.

Objectives. To evaluate the compression strength of human vertebral bodies injected with a new calcium phosphate (CaP) cement with improved infiltration properties for augmentation of the vertebral bodies before compression fracture and also for vertebroplasty in comparison with polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) injection.

Summary of Background Data. Vertebroplasty is the percutaneous injection of PMMA cement into the vertebral body. While PMMA has high mechanical strength, it cures fast and thus allows only a short handling time. Other potential problems of using PMMA injection may include damage to surrounding tissues by a high polymerization temperature or by the unreacted toxic monomer, and the lack of long-term biocompatibility. Bone mineral cements, such as calcium carbonate and CaP cements, have longer working time and low thermal effect. They are also biodegradable while having a good mechanical strength. However, the viscosity of injectable mineral cements is high, and the infiltration of these cements into vertebral body has been questioned. Recently, the infiltration properties of a CaP cement have been significantly improved, which is ideal for the transpedicular injection to the vertebral bodies for vertebroplasty or augmentation of osteoporotic vertebral body strength.

Methods. The bone mineral densities of 30 vertebral bodies (T2–L1) were measured using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Ten control specimens were compressed at a loading rate of 15 mm/min to 50% of their original height. The other specimens had 6 mL of PMMA (n = 10) or the new CaP (n = 10) cement injected through the bilateral pedicle approach before being loaded in compression. Additionally, after the control specimens had been compressed, they were injected with either CaP (n = 5) or PMMA (n = 5) cement using the same technique, to simulate vertebroplasty. Loading experiments were repeated with the displacement control of 50% vertebral height. Load to failure was compared among groups and analyzed using analysis of variance.

Results. Mean bone mineral densities of all five groups were similar and ranged from 0.56 to 0.89 g/cm2. The size of the vertebral body and the amount of cement injected were similar in all groups. Load to failure values for PMMA, the new CaP, and vertebroplasty PMMA were significantly greater than that of control. Load to failure of the vertebroplasty CaP group was higher than control but not statistically significant. The mean stiffness of the vertebroplasty CaP group was significantly smaller than control, PMMA, and the new CaP groups. The mean height gains after injection of the new CaP and PMMA cements for vertebroplasty were minimal (3.56% and 2.01%, respectively).

Conclusion. Results of this study demonstrated that the new CaP cement can be injected and infiltrates easily into the vertebral body. It was also found that injection of the new CaP cement can improve the strength of a fractured vertebral body to at least the level of its intact strength. Thus, the new CaP cement may be a good alternative to PMMA cement for vertebroplasty, although further in vivo animal and clinical studies should be done. Furthermore, the new CaP may be more effective in augmenting the strength of osteoporotic vertebral bodies for preventing compression fractures considering our biomechanical testing data and the known potential for biodegradability of the new CaP cement.

From the *Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center, the

†Department of Bioengineering, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois, and the

‡Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Eulji University Hospital, Taejeon, Korea.

Acknowledgment date: July 3, 2001.

Revision date: October 16, 2001.

Acceptance date: December 17, 2001.

Address correspondence to

Tae-Hong Lim, PhD

Department of Orthopedic Surgery

Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center

2242 W. Harrison, Suite 103

Chicago, IL 60612

The device(s)/drug(s) that is/are the subject of this article is/are not FDA-approved for this indication and is/are not commercially available in the United States.

Corporate/Industry funds were received to support this work. No benefits in any form have been or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.