Improving spinal bone healing in at risk patients
Bone growth stimulation (BGS) is a therapy your surgeon may prescribe following a spinal fusion procedure. A bone growth stimulator is an auxiliary device worn following cervical (neck) or lumbar (low back) spine surgery. BGS may be used to assist spinal bone fuse after a fusion procedure or as a treatment for failed fusion. Naturally, you’ve questions about this technology.
Spinal column with implant, screw placement and fusion
The info provided in this patient guide can assist you to learn:
- Bone heals
- Risk factors for a poor or failed fusion
- Role of bone growth stimulation in spine fusion aftercare
- Questions to ask your back surgeon
“Bone growth stimulation to be used in both the cervical and lumbar spine has demonstrated to substantially help fusion results. Having been a study centre for this particular technology, I’ve used bone growth stimulation in most my post-operative cervical and lumbar patient instances. The patient assessment standards I use contains:
Multi-level fusions; more than one degree of the back is fused
Co-morbidities (risk factors) that could hinder bone healing and growing”
—Gerard J. Girasole, MD
Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Center
About Spinal Fusion
Spinal fusion is done to stop motion of neurologic deficit and the spine. During the procedure two or more vertebral bodies are joined together using instrumentation and bone graft. Spinal instrumentation includes poles, screws, plates, and interbody devices (implants). Bone graft may comprise your own bone (autograft), donor bone (allograft), or alternative forms of graft.
Bone graft helps stimulate new bone to grow through three stages:
- Inflammatory period: cells start to form new tissue
- Repair period: small blood vessel ingrowth begins
- Remodeling phase: bone structure becomes powerful
Spinal instrumentation creates an internal cast, allowing the inflammatory procedure to stimulate bone healing. With time, new bone grows into and about the implanted instrumentation healing into a construct that is sound.
Some patients are at risk for spinal fusion to fail. A failed fusion is called pseudarthrosis or nonunion. Pseudarthrosis and nonunion are medical terms your surgeon may utilize to identify a fusion dilemma.
Common Spinal Issues Treated Surgically With Fusion Include:
- Degenerative disk disease
- Herniated disc
- Spinal stenosis
- Adult degenerative scoliosis
How Does A Bone Growth Stimulator Help Spinal Fusion?
A BGS sends electric signals to the fusion site. The electrical signals activate the body’s natural bone healing process, which may be impaired in at-risk patients.
Bone Growth Stimulation Has Been Put To Use For Decades To Help Bone Heal
Over 50 years ago scientists found that low-level electrical fields arouse the entire body’s bone-healing process. Other improvements included finding several types of energy that stimulate bone development, electromagnetic coil technology and only better devices — supported by clinical and scientific research—have enhanced bone healing in patients who undergo spinal fusion.
Different Types Of Bone Growth Stimulators
All bone growth stimulators are different. Certain types are designed to be surgically implanted (internal BGS) and other stimulators are worn outside the body (external BGS). Other differences include how stimulation is transmitted to the back and the kind of magnetic field or electric current created by the apparatus.