Fusion surgery itself is only part of the process of increasing the stability of the affected area of spine. If a fusion fails, doctors often consider the surgery unsuccessful and recommend either another attempt or a different procedure. Spine surgeons sometimes utilize a bone growth stimulation device when it appears fusion surgery has failed.
Natural Electrical Field Boost
The body generates a low-level electrical field naturally when a bone is broken or damaged. When this natural electrical field isn’t strong enough to spur a successful fusion, a bone growth stimulation device may be used to encourage healing.
How the Device Works
Bone growth stimulation devices work by delivering low-level electromagnetic pulses to the site of the fusion. The device may be implanted just below the skin or worn externally. Implantation of the device is considered a safe, non-invasive procedure that has no negative impact on the surgery site. It’s a small device that’s easy to conceal when worn externally.
Ideal Candidates for Bone Growth Stimulation
While doctors generally take a wait and see approach with spinal fusions, as there are certain risk factors that can increase the odds of a fusion not being successful. For patients considered at a higher risk of experiencing a failed fusion, surgeons may use bone growth stimulation in conjunction with the surgery. Patients considered “ideal candidates” in the sense that they’re at more of a risk of experiencing a failed fusion, include those who:
• Need to have fusions at multiple locations along the spine
• Have a history of vascular disease, obesity, or diabetes
• Smoke or periodically consume alcohol
• Have had previous failed fusion surgeries, with or without the use of bone growth stimulation
Bone growth stimulation devices have been FDA-approved for more than 25 years, with some of the newer models having a success rate of nearly 90 percent. There are no strict guidelines on when patients should try such a device since fusions can take anywhere from six months to a year to fully form. Doctors often use patient history, general health status, and results of image tests to determine if the device should be used.
To learn more about treatment options for your specific condition, reach out to Dr. Bae and his team of spine specialists at The Spine Institute center for Spinal Restoration. Dr. Bae specializes in both fusion and non-fusion spine surgery and can help you determine the right course of action. Call (310) 828-7757 to request an in-person consultation.