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Cement Found in Man’s Heart After Spinal Surgery

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From the WebMD Archives

Oct. 6, 2021 -- Doctors removed a 4-inch piece of cement from a man’s heart, which had leaked into his body from a spinal surgery, according to a new report published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The 56-year-old man, who was not identified in the report, went to the emergency room after experiencing 2 days of chest pain and shortness of breath. Imaging scans showed that the chest pain was caused by a foreign object, and he was rushed to surgery.

Surgeons then located and removed a thin, sharp, cylindrical piece of cement and repaired the damage to the patient’s heart. The cement had pierced the upper right chamber of his heart and his right lung, according to the report authors from the Yale University School of Medicine.

A week before, the man had undergone a spinal surgery known as kyphoplasty. The procedure treats spine injuries by injecting a special type of medical cement into damaged vertebrae, according to USA Today. The cement had leaked into the patient’s body, hardened, and traveled to his heart.

The man has now “nearly recovered” since the heart surgery and cement removal, which occurred about a month ago, the journal report stated. He experienced no additional complications.

Cement leakage after kyphoplasty can happen but is an extremely rare complication. Less than 2% of patients who undergo the procedure for osteoporosis or brittle bones have complications, according to patient information from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

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New England Journal of Medicine: “Intracardiac Cement Embolism.”

USA Today: “A man was having chest pain. Then doctors found a 4-inch piece of cement in his heart.”

American Association of Neurological Surgeons: “Vertebral Compression Fractures.”

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