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April 07, 2011

Placebo surgery

This news is a little dated, but I didn't know they did double-blind studies of surgical efficacy. How do they explain to someone that he had a 'sham operation'?

Common spine surgery ineffective in two studies

BOSTON, Aug 5 (Reuters) - A common spine operation for relieving back pain is no more effective than make-believe surgery, two teams reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The technique, called vertebroplasty, involves injecting medical cement into a fractured spine bone to strengthen it. More than 38,000 such procedures are done in the United States every year and the number has been increasingly rapidly, nearly doubling from 2001 to 2005.

"We had hoped this treatment might get the pain better quicker, but we couldn't demonstrate that," said Rachelle Buchbinder of Monash University in Malvern, Australia, whose group found that 36 volunteers who received sham surgery did just as well as 35 who got the real operation.

Posted by joke du jour at April 7, 2011 01:16 PM

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