Original Article

European Spine Journal

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 466-473

First online:

Cement leakage during vertebroplasty: an underestimated problem?

  • R SchmidtAffiliated withDepartment of Orthopaedics and SCI, University of UlmRKU, Orthopädische Klinik mit Querschnittgelähmtenzentrum der Universität Ulm Email author 
  • , B CakirAffiliated withDepartment of Orthopaedics and SCI, University of Ulm
  • , T MattesAffiliated withDepartment of Orthopaedics and SCI, University of Ulm
  • , M WegenerAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, University of Ulm
  • , W PuhlAffiliated withDepartment of Orthopaedics and SCI, University of Ulm
  • , M RichterAffiliated withDepartment of Orthopaedics and SCI, University of Ulm

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Overall, vertebroplasty has a low complication rate. Nevertheless, severe complications can occur. The majority of these are related to cement extrusion. The rate of cement leakage is often obtained by X-ray, with only a single leak registration per vertebra. Detection rate of leaks in comparison with CT and inter-observer reliability for X-ray is, in large parts, unknown. We conducted this study to determine the value of fluoroscopy and X-ray used to detect cement leakage as compared to CT scans. Intraoperative findings in lateral fluoroscopy by the surgeon, and postoperative findings in X-rays by two orthopaedic surgeons, were compared with CT scans for the same study group. Multiple cement leakage was considered, and agreement rate was determined. The detection rate for leaks was 34% for lateral X-ray and 48% for lateral and AP view. Additional AP views only enhanced the detection of leaks in the segmental veins. The agreement rate between fluoroscopy/X-ray and CT scans ranged between 66% and 74%, while inter-observer reliability showed only fair agreement. The rate of cement leaks in vertebroplasty is high if multiple leaks are considered in CT scans. Detection rates using X-rays are low and complicated by only fair inter-observer agreement. Leaks in the basivertebral veins are frequently misinterpreted and can lead to severe complications. Therefore, CT scans should be obtained to calculate the exact leakage rate and to assess persistent or new pain occurring postoperatively.


Vertebroplasty Cement leakage Detection rate Interobserver reliability