Spinal Fusion Surgery Uses Bone Protein

New procedure designed to eliminate need for second operation

TUESDAY, July 2, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- A genetically engineered protein that causes the body to grow bone may be the key to reducing a painful second stage in spinal fusion surgery.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given the go-ahead to a surgical procedure called Infuse Bone Graft, develped by Medtronic Sofamor Danek. Part of the surgery involves placing the protein -- saturated in a special sponge -- into two thimble-sized devices that are implanted between the affected vertebrae.

The protein then spurs bone cells to grow through the collagen in the sponge, and this new bone fuses the vertebrae.

The protein-implanting procedure isn't new. But the way that the protein was originally harvested was through painful hip surgery, and the pain from that procedure often outweighed the benefits of the fusion sugery.

The new procedure uses bone protein that's been isolated in a laboratory and reproduced through DNA technology.

Almost 200,000 spinal fusion surgeries are performed in the United States each year, and they are sometimes the only way to effectively treat degenerative disc disease.

Here is an article from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, explaining the pros and cons of spinal fusion surgery.

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