Diabetes increases risk of failure in spinal fusion procedures, new study finds

June 14, 2024  08:46

A new study from orthopedic researchers at The University of Toledo (UToledo), USA has found lumbar spinal fusion procedures are far more likely to fail in individuals with diabetes, UToledo  informed.

The results of this study were published in the peer-reviewed journal JBMR Plus and were recently presented at the Lumbar Spine Research Society’s annual meeting in Chicago.

“We’ve known for a long time that diabetic patients are at high risk of infection from any surgery, including spinal fusion,” said Dr. Hossein Elgafy, a professor of orthopaedics in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences and chief of spine surgery at UTMC. “More recently, however, physicians have taken a closer look at the high rate of failure in those patients. A lot of times the bones simply aren’t fusing.”

The reason for that, UToledo researchers say, appears to be connected to how diabetes affects bone growth and healing.

In a spinal fusion procedure, surgeons use a combination of screws, rods and bone grafts to join two or more vertebrae together. As the area heals the bones should fuse solidly together, restricting motion and relieving pain.

Sometimes, however, the bones don’t properly heal together. Surgeons call that a non-union complication, and it often leads to more pain and the need for additional, corrective surgery.

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