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Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2003 Aug 1;28(15):1659-65.

Prevention of postlaminectomy epidural fibrosis using bioelastic materials.

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  • 1Harvard Medical School, Orthopaedic Biomechanics Laboratory, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



The use of elastic protein-based polymers for the prevention of epidural fibrosis following lumbar spine laminectomy was investigated in a rabbit model.


To determine the safety and efficacy of two bioelastic polymers in matrix and gel forms as interpositional materials in preventing postlaminectomy epidural fibrosis.


Postlaminectomy epidural fibrosis complicates revision spine surgery and is implicated in cases of "failed back syndrome." Materials employed as mechanical barriers to limit tethering of neural elements by the fibrosis tissue have met with little success. A recent family of protein-based polymers, previously reported to prevent postoperative scarring and adhesions, may hold promise in treating this condition.


Sixteen female New Zealand White rabbits underwent laminectomy at L4 and L6. Two polymer compositions, each in membrane and gel forms, were implanted at a randomly assigned level in four rabbits each, with the remaining level serving as an internal control. The animals were killed at 8 weeks, and qualitative and quantitative histology and gross pathologic examination were performed for both the control and the experimental sites to assess the polymers' efficacy in preventing dorsal epidural fibrosis.


The use of the polymers caused no adverse effects. Compared to the control sites, both polymers in either gel or membrane form significantly reduced the formation of epidural fibrosis and its area of contact with the dura postlaminectomy. However, no significant difference in efficacy was detected between either the polymers or their respective forms in preventing epidural fibrosis.


The selected compositions of biosynthetic, bioelastic polymers were safe and effective in the limiting the direct contact and consequent tethering of the underlying neural elements by the postlaminectomy epidural fibrosis in rabbits.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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