Open Access Research article

Hypothermic manipulation of bone cement can extend the handling time during vertebroplasty

Po-Liang Lai1, Ching-Lung Tai2*, I-Ming Chu3, Tsai-Sheng Fu1, Lih-Huei Chen1 and Wen-Jer Chen1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Taoyuan, Taiwan

2 Graduate Institute of Medical Mechatronics, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Chang Gung University, Taoyuan, Taiwan

3 Department of Chemical Engineering, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2012, 13:198  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-13-198

Published: 16 October 2012



Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) is commonly used for clinical applications. However, the short handling time increases the probability of a surgeon missing the crucial period in which the cement maintains its ideal viscosity for a successful injection. The aim of this article was to illustrate the effects a reduction in temperature would have on the cement handling time during percutaneous vertebroplasty.


The injectability of bone cement was assessed using a cement compressor. By twisting the compressor, the piston transmits its axial load to the plunger, which then pumps the bone cement out. The experiments were categorized based on the different types of hypothermic manipulation that were used. In group I (room temperature, sham group), the syringes were kept at 22°C after mixing the bone cement. In group 2 (precooling the bone cement and the container), the PMMA powder and liquid, as well as the beaker, spatula, and syringe, were stored in the refrigerator (4°C) overnight before mixing. In group 3 (ice bath cooling), the syringes were immediately submerged in ice water after mixing the bone cement at room temperature.


The average liquid time, paste time, and handling time were 5.1 ± 0.7, 3.4 ± 0.3, and 8.5 ± 0.8 min, respectively, for group 1; 9.4 ± 1.1, 5.8 ± 0.5, and 15.2 ± 1.2 min, respectively, for group 2; and 83.8 ± 5.2, 28.8 ± 6.9, and 112.5 ± 11.3 min, respectively, for group 3. The liquid and paste times could be increased through different cooling methods. In addition, the liquid time (i.e. waiting time) for ice bath cooling was longer than for that of the precooling method (p < 0.05).


Both precooling (i.e. lowering the initial temperature) and ice bath cooling (i.e. lowering the surrounding temperature) can effectively slow polymerization. Precooling is easy for clinical applications, while ice bath cooling might be more suitable for multiple-level vertebroplasty. Clinicians can take advantage of the improved injectability without any increased cost.

Bone cement; Precooling; Ice bath; Working time; Handling time