SAIF: A Better Option For Severely Fractured Vertebrae

OAK BROOK, Ill. (May 22, 2019) — At the American Society of Neuroradiology’s 57th Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts Dr. Alessandro Cianfoni presented new research about Stent-Screw Assisted Internal Fixation (SAIF). Most severe vertebral fractures caused by fragilization of bone tissue, such as in osteoporosis or cancer, not only can be the cause of pain and significant reduction of quality of life, but can also lead to instability, spine deformity and loss of neurological function. Restoration of spinal stability generally requires surgery, which can be quite invasive, carry significant risk of complication, is sometimes contraindicated, and entails long periods of recovery, especially in fragile patient populations.

A collaborative effort between the Neurocenter of Southern Switzerland in Lugano (CH) and the NeuroInterventional Spine Service at the Massachusetts General Hospital has brought innovative and interesting results on the development of a new minimally-invasive spine surgical intervention to treat severe vertebral fractures caused by osteoporosis or cancer.

SAIF is a technique that uses imaging guidance to place Vertebral Body Stents (VBS®), inserted through tiny skin incisions into the vertebra. Subsequently, through the same small incisions, special screws are inserted inside the stents’ lumen and bone cement is injected through the screws to fill the stents and the osseous “box” of the vertebral body. The vertebral body is thus internally rebuilt all through tiny incisions. The whole vertebra—front to back—is reinforced and regains its weight-bearing ability. The procedure does not entail any multilevel spinal column fusion, as traditional surgery does, and full spine mobility is therefore preserved. Moreover, the patients can stand and walk just few hours after the procedure. The procedure is in fact performed in a day-surgery setting.

Currently, SAIF has been performed at the Neurocenter of Southern Switzerland in over 200 patients, and the encouraging clinical results are being submitted to international medical journals for publication. In the meantime, preliminary results were presented at the American Society of Spine Radiology (ASSR) annual meeting in February, and have been awarded with the prize for the 2019 best scientific abstract.

Says Dr. Cianfoni, the lead investigator, “SAIF is allowing us to change the paradigm: We can now treat, using minimally invasive techniques, some very challenging vertebral fractures, caused by cancer or osteoporosis. We can restore stability of the spine, and in many situations thereby avoid more invasive surgeries. This offers patients more tolerable therapeutic options. Nevertheless, further studies are necessary to confirm and reinforce these encouraging preliminary results.”

 About the American Society of Neuroradiology

The American Society of Neuroradiology (ASNR) is an organization of over 5,600 neuroradiologists and related professionals, founded in 1962, dedicated to maximizing the benefits of neuroradiology to patients and other providers by promoting the highest standards for training and practice, and fostering research in the field.


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