A Patients' Guide to Bone Growth Stimulation

Bone Growth Stimulation for Spinal Fusion Aftercare

Patients’ Guide to Bone Growth Stimulation

Spinal fusion may be included in surgical procedures to treat different spinal disorders. The goal of spinal fusion is to provide permanent stabilization of the spine. Fusion seeks to join and fuse 2 or more spinal bones—vertebral bodies—together to stabilize the spine. Spinal fusion is a healing process where vertebral bodies grow together and become solid.

Cervical fusion with instrumentation.A post-operative image depicts a neck fusion using a cervical plate and screws. Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com.

Spinal instrumentation Plus Bone graft Plus Bone growth stimulation Equals Better spinal fusion outcome

Spinal Instrumentation

Spinal instrumentation includes implants, such as interbody devices, cages, plates, rods, and screws.

Bone Graft

There are different types of bone graft, such as your own bone (autograft), donor bone (allograft), man-made (synthetic, bioengineered), and biologics (eg, bone morphogenetic protein [BMP]). Bone graft is packed into and around spinal instrumentation.

Bone Growth Stimulation

Your surgeon may prescribe a bone growth stimulator to promote and enhance your spinal fusion. There are different types of BGS devices.

  • Those implanted within the body (internal BGS).
  • External devices designed to be worn around the area of the spinal fusion (eg, neck or back).
  • The device emits low level electrical impulses that affect the bone-growing cells to induce bone healing and fusion.

BGS treatment typically is started soon after a spinal fusion procedure. Your surgeon understands that patients and their postoperative needs differ. Therefore, your surgeon will recommend the type of stimulator appropriate for you and your needs.

Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon Discusses BGS

Gerard J. Girasole, MD, stated, "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, multi-level fusions, more than one level of the spine is fused, and co-morbidities (risk factors) that could hinder bone healing and growth."

Updated on: 05/06/19
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Questions to Ask Your Surgeon about Bone Growth Stimulation
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Questions to Ask Your Surgeon about Bone Growth Stimulation

Planning to undergo a neck or low back spinal fusion procedure? These questions can help you to talk with your spine surgeon about bone growth stimulation.
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