Bone Growth Stimulator

All About Bone Growth Stimulator

The use of bone growth stimulator is a new procedure that is being practiced in the United States as part of spinal fusion surgery. Theoretically, it is suppose to help to stimulate the growth of new bone. One study on the use of bone growth stimulator indicates that the procedure is very costly, and there may be some complications involved.

Spinal fusion with bone growth stimulator is a procedure that involves using an agent known as bone morphogenic protein, also called BMP. Approximately 25 percent of these types of surgeries now involve the use of BMP, and the percentage is increasing every year.

One recent study showed that the risk of complications was increased when bone growth stimulator was used in surgical procedures that involve anterior cervical fusions, which is the front area of the neck. Some of the complications that were reported when bone growth stimulator was used on fusions surgeries of this type, included problems with swallowing, as well as hoarseness. Although there did appear to be more complications involved when using bone growth stimulator when the fusions surgery was done on the front of the neck, when the surgery was in other areas it did not appear to increase the risk when using BMP.

Although fusions surgery that involves the use of bone growth stimulator appears to work, many experts are still not sure about its use. Due to the fact that it is a fairly new procedure, doctors argue that there is no way to know for sure what the right dosage is for different locations of the bone. In addition to this, the use of BMP does increase the cost of the surgery dramatically.

Another consideration is that most experts agree that BMP is an extremely potent substance, but they are unsure of what the long-term success will be for patients. BMP is a protein that is naturally produced by the body. Its purpose is to tell the stem cells to produce more bone. In 2002, the Food and Drug Administration in the United States approved the use of bone growth stimulator for fusion surgeries of the lower back. So far the use of the substance does look as if it speeds the process of the fusion, and in some cases eliminates the need for additional surgeries.

Despite its success rate, there are still many experts that have misgivings about using bone growth stimulator for these surgeries. One of the main reasons given is that it simply increases the cost too much, compared to benefits that many patients receive from it. When BMP is used in a fusion surgery, it can increase the cost of the procedure up to 41 percent. 

The basic attitude is that more research needs to be done to find out which patients will benefit the most from bone growth stimulator, and which ones will do just as well without it. There is also a push to find another way to stimulate bone growth that will be less costly and more effective. Many doctors would also like to see more research being done on the outpatient complications associated with the use of BMP; in addition, they point out the current research does not indicate that the hospital stay is any shorter for those patients where bone growth stimulator was used.

Recently the rate of complications with surgeries performed on the front part of the neck have been reduced, but this appears to be due to the fact that a lot of surgeons are not using BMP for these surgeries, and if they do, it is often in smaller doses.