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Bracing Routinely Applied After Spinal Procedures

But surgeons disagree about the most appropriate types, duration of immobilization

MONDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- In patients who undergo spinal surgery for degenerative conditions, most surgeons use post-operative bracing, but there is no consensus concerning the most appropriate type, duration and indications for immobilization, according to the results of a study published in the April issue of the Spine Journal.

Jesse E. Bible, of the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues surveyed 98 surgeons who attended the "Disorders of the Spine" conference in January 2008.

The researchers found that bracing frequency was similar in academic and private as well as orthopedic and neurosurgical practices, but that it was significantly higher among fellowship- than in non-fellowship-trained surgeons (61 percent versus 46 percent, respectively). They also found that bracing was more commonly employed after cervical-spine than lumbar-spine procedures (63 percent versus 49 percent, respectively) and in multilevel constructs than in single constructs (76 percent versus 55 percent, respectively). Bracing duration ranged from three to eight weeks, the report indicates.

"Although most of the respondents brace their patients post-operatively, there is an obvious lack of consensus regarding the most appropriate type, duration and indications for immobilization. Further prospective, clinical studies may play a helpful role in evaluating the efficacy of postoperative bracing protocols," the authors conclude.

One co-author disclosed financial relationships with Medtronic, Regeneration Technologies and Stryker.

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