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David Kallmes, MD: Is vertebroplasty futile?


Two important government-funded clinical trials on vertobroplasty were published today in The New England Journal of Medicine. Both trials showed that the practice of injecting cement into spinal compression fractures of the elderly do not help alleviate pain and disability better than control sham procedures. However, as with most spine trials, there is plenty of room to dice the data and find flaws in the conclusions.

The relevance to investors is that vertebroplasty is the direct competitor to Medtronic’s Kyphon balloon kyphoplasty device. On one hand, the two negative studies in the NEJM could cast doubt of the concept of repairing fractured osteoporotic spines, and be a negative for MDT as well. On the other hand, there is a good argument that kyphoplasty is significantly different from vertebroplasty and that the negative studies will drive more cases to be preformed using kyphoplasty.

We interviewed the principle investigator of the US trial, Dr. David Kallmes of the Mayo Clinic.

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