Bone Growth Stimulation Helps to Overcome Risk Factors to Spinal Fusion
Patient Guide to Bone Growth Stimulation
Through life, the bones in your body undergo continual change at the cellular level. Change at the cellular level refers to the most basic cellular functions that keep your bones, heart, kidneys and other organ systems healthy. Two types of cells essential to bone growth and strength are osteoclasts and osteoblasts—both are needed to heal and repair bone.
- Step 1: Osteoclasts break down old bone
- Step 2: Osteoblasts make new bone
- Step 3: Bone remodeling is the process for bone renewal and formation
Bone healing is the process necessary for a successful spinal fusion—the end product. However, certain lifestyle choices, diseases and treatments slow down, disrupt or stop bone healing. Risk factors that reduce fusion success rates include:
- Smoking/tobacco use
- Spinal instability, such as spondylolisthesis (Grade 2 or greater)
- Multilevel fusions (three or more vertebrae fused together)
- Prior failed fusion
- Metabolic bone disease (osteoporosis, osteopenia)
- Certain medication use (steroids)
- Excessive intake of alcoholic beverages
These factors may put you at-risk for a failed fusion. If you have any of the above risk factors, your surgeon may prescribe a bone growth stimulator to aid in the healing of your fusion.
"Bone growth stimulation for use in both the cervical and lumbar spine has shown to significantly benefit fusion results. Having been a study center for this technology, I have used bone growth stimulation in the majority of my post-operative cervical and lumbar patient cases. Not every patient is a candidate for bone growth stimulation. The patient evaluation criteria I use includes: patients who smoke, multilevel fusions (more than one level of the spine is fused), and comorbidities (risk factors) that could hinder bone healing and growth."
—Gerard J. Girasole, MD
Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Center
While some disorders can be treated, habits are not easily changed. Be assured your surgeon understands. He or she can help you make lifestyle choices that will benefit you now and during the rest of your life.