Beta tricalcium phosphate is commonly used in metaphyseal defects but its use in posterolateral spinal fusion remains controversial. There are very few published animal studies in which use of beta tricalcium phosphate has been evaluated in the posterolateral lumbar arthrodesis model. Hence we conducted a study to evaluate the potential of composite graft of beta tricalcium phosphate and bone marrow aspirate in comparison to autologous bone graft, when used for posterolateral spinal fusion.
Materials and Methods:
Single level posterolateral lumbar fusion was performed in 40 adult male Indian rabbits, which were assigned randomly into one of the four groups based on graft materials implanted; a) 3 gm beta tricalcium phosphate plus 3 ml bone marrow aspirate (Group I); b) 3 ml bone marrow aspirate alone (Group II); c) 3 gm beta tricalcium phosphate (Group III) and d) 3 gm autologous bone graft (Group IV). Each group had 10 rabbits. Half of the rabbits were sacrificed by injecting Phenobarbitone intraperitoneally after eight weeks and the remaining after 24 weeks, and were evaluated for fusion by X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, manual palpation test and histology.
Beta tricalcium phosphate used with bone marrow aspirate produced best results when compared to other groups (P =.0001). When beta tricalcium phosphate was used alone, fusion rates were better as compared to fusion achieved with autologous iliac crest bone graft though statistically not significant (P =0.07). Autologous bone graft showed signs of new bone formation. However, the rate of new bone formation was comparatively slow.
Composite graft of beta tricalcium phosphate and bone marrow aspirate can be used as an alternative to autologous iliac crest bone graft.