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1.  Fusion mass bone quality after uninstrumented spinal fusion in older patients 
European Spine Journal  2010;19(12):2200-2208.
Older people are at increased risk of non-union after spinal fusion, but little is known about the factors determining the quality of the fusion mass in this patient group. The aim of this study was to investigate fusion mass bone quality after uninstrumented spinal fusion and to evaluate if it could be improved by additional direct current (DC) electrical stimulation. A multicenter RCT compared 40 and 100 μA DC stimulation with a control group of uninstrumented posterolateral fusion in patients older than 60 years. This report comprised 80 patients who underwent DEXA scanning at the 1 year follow-up. The study population consisted of 29 men with a mean age of 72 years (range 62–85) and 51 women with a mean age of 72 years (range 61–84). All patients underwent DEXA scanning of their fusion mass. Fusion rate was assessed at the 2 year follow-up using thin slice CT scanning. DC electrical stimulation did not improve fusion mass bone quality. Smokers had lower fusion mass BMD (0.447 g/cm2) compared to non-smokers (0.517 g/cm2) (P = 0.086). Women had lower fusion mass BMD (0.460 g/cm2) compared to men (0.552 g/cm2) (P = 0.057). Using linear regression, fusion mass bone quality, measured as BMD, was significantly influenced by gender, age of the patient, bone density of the remaining part of the lumbar spine, amount of bone graft applied and smoking. Fusion rates in this cohort was 34% in the control group and 33 and 43% in the 40 and 100 μA groups, respectively (not significant). Patients classified as fused after 2 years had significant higher fusion mass BMD at 1 year (0.592 vs. 0.466 g/cm2, P = 0.0001). Fusion mass bone quality in older patients depends on several factors. Special attention should be given to women with manifest or borderline osteoporosis. Furthermore, bone graft materials with inductive potential might be considered for this patient population.
doi:10.1007/s00586-010-1373-2
PMCID: PMC2997208  PMID: 20429017
Spinal fusion; Randomised clinical trial; Bone mineral density; Electrical stimulation; Bone graft; Age; Smoking

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