A recent study published in Osteoporosis International showed considerable success in spinal fracture treatment that would remove the need for oral opioids and at the same time it reduces patient costs. Two treatments were used to accomplish this result, balloon kyphoplasty (BKP) and vertebroplasty (VP), and all of the patients had spinal fractures called vertebral compression fractures (VCF). Roughly 800,000 Americans suffer from a VCF annually, causing spinal deformity and debilitating pain while reducing life expectancy. Conservative medical management associated with VCF usually has the patient spending more time taking bed rest, wearing a back brace when they are out of bed, and taking oral opioids. These recommendations were recently called into question because their positive effects were limited, especially compared to the more active treatments like BKP and VP. These treatments have often been used for fractures caused by ailments like benign lesions, cancer, or osteoporosis as a way to relieve pain while stabilizing the problem.
The study looked at patients who received opioid-prescriptions and the costs for a little over a year of treatment, starting six months before surgery and seven months after either BKP or VP. Researchers reported that over 57% of patients required fewer oral opioids after the surgery, with over 48% not needing oral-opioids at all by the end of the study. Patients who reduced opioid use after these procedures also had lower costs over the six months following the surgery, averaging $6,759 in savings. Those who increased their oral-opioid use also had an increase in cost of about $160. The study suggests that this could perhaps help with the current opioid epidemic as it provides a treatment that can reduce the need for the medication while also providing a reduced cost to patients.
For the details about this new procedure, you can read the full article at New Study Finds Procedures Treating Spinal Fractures Associated with Reduction in Opioid Use and Decreased Payer Costs.