Cost-Benefit Analysis of Routine Bone Biopsy During Augmentation of Osteoporotic Vertebral Compression Fractures

Oded Hershkovich*, Edward Bayley, Oren Rudik, Vitaly Alexandrovsky, Alon Friedlander, Efrat Daglen, Raphael Lotan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study Design.Multi-center prospective study.Objective.To analyze the cost of routine biopsy during augmentation of osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures (VCF) and the affect it has on further treatment.Summary of Background Data.Vertebroplasty (VP) and Balloon Kyphoplasty (BKP) are accepted treatments for VCF. Bone biopsy is routinely performed during every VCF surgery in many centers around the world to exclude an incidental finding of malignancy as the cause of the pathological VCF. The incidence been reported as 0.7% to 7.3%, however the published cohorts are small and do not discuss cost-benefit aspects.Methods.From 2008 to 2016 we performed 122 vertebral biopsies routinely on 116 patients in three hospitals. Twenty-three patients had history of malignancy (26 biopsies) and four were suspected of having malignancy based on imaging findings. The remaining 86 patients (99 biopsies) were presumed osteoporotic VCF.Results.Out of 99 biopsies in the VCF cohort group only one yielded an unsuspected malignancy (1.16%), positive for multiple myeloma (MM). The ability of clinical assessment and imaging alone to diagnose malignancy was found to be 91.7% sensitive and 84.2% specific in our cohort.Conclusion.Routine bone biopsy during vertebral augmentation procedure is a safe option for evaluating the cause of the VCF but has significant cost to the health system. The cost of one diagnosed case of unsuspected malignancy was $31,000 in our study. The most common pathology was MM, which has not been proven to benefit from early diagnosis. When comparing clinical diagnosis with imaging, a previous history of malignancy was found in only 40.7% of VCF patients, while imaging was 100% accurate in predicting presence of malignancy on biopsy. This study reassures spine surgeons in their ability to diagnose malignant VCFs and does not support the significant cost of routine bone biopsies.Level of Evidence: 3.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1634-1638
Number of pages5
Issue number23
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • biopsy
  • kyphoplasty
  • osteoporotic compression fracture
  • vertebroplasty


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