F. B. Christensen, M. Lind, S. P. Eiskjær, K. Thomsen, E. S. Hansen, C. E. Bünger

February 1999, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 54 - 60 Original article Read Full Article 10.1007/s005860050127

First Online: 17 February 1999

The capacity of the individual patient to initiate osteoblast proliferation as a predictor for successful lumbar spinal fusion has not yet been reported. The objectives of this study were, first, to analyze the relationship between in vitro osteoblast proliferation and clinical bony fusion in the individual patient in order to predict the fusion outcome and, second, to measure the effect of preoperative tobacco smoking on osteoblast proliferation. Sixty-one patients (mean age 46 years) underwent posterolateral lumbar fusion in the period 1994–1995. Thirty-eight patients received CD pedicle screw implants and 23 received posterolateral fusions alone. During surgery, autogenous iliac bone was harvested and 1 g of trabecular bone without blood or bone marrow was then isolated for cell culturing. The cultures were classified as excellent (confluence within 4 weeks), good (confluence between 4 and 6 weeks) and poor (no or poor growth). Spine fusion was evaluated by two independent observers from plain anterior-posterior, lateral, and flexion/extension radiographs taken 1 year postoperatively, and the functional outcome was measured by the Dallas Pain Questionnaire (DPQ). Twenty-three patients had excellent, 19 good, and 19 poor in vitro osteoblast proliferation. Bony fusion was obtained in 77% of patients: 83% in the CD instrumentation group and 70% in the non-instrumentation group (NS). There was no significant correlation between osteoblast proliferation and spinal fusion or functional outcomes when analyzing the CD instrumentation and non-instrumentation groups together or separately. Elderly patients had a significantly poorer osteoblast proliferation than younger patients (P

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