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J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1992 Jul;74(6):920-9.

The effect of low-frequency electrical fields on osteogenesis.

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Department of Orthopaedics, School of Medicine, State University of New York, Stony Brook 11794-8181.

Erratum in

  • J Bone Joint Surg Am 1992 Sep;74(8):1274.


An in vivo animal model of disuse osteopenia was used to determine the osteogenic potential of specific components of electrical fields. The ability of a complex pulsed electrical field to inhibit loss of bone was compared with the remodeling response generated by extremely low-power, low-frequency (fifteen, seventy-five, and 150-hertz) sinusoidal electrical fields. The left ulnae of thirty adult male turkeys were functionally isolated by creation of distal and proximal epiphyseal osteotomies and then were exposed, for one hour each day, to an electrical field that had been induced exogenously by means of magnetic induction. After a fifty-six-day protocol, the remodeling response was quantified by a comparison of the cross-sectional area of the mid-part of the diaphysis of the functionally isolated ulna with that of the intact contralateral ulna. Disuse resulted in a 13 per cent mean loss of osseous tissue, which was not significantly different than the 10 per cent loss that was caused by disuse treated with inactive coils. Exposure to the pulsed electrical fields prevented this osteopenia and stimulated a 10 per cent mean increase in the bone area. The osteogenic influence of the sinusoidal electrical fields was strongly dependent on the frequency; the 150, seventy-five, and fifteen-hertz sinusoidal fields, respectively, generated a -3 per cent, + 5 per cent, and + 20 per cent mean change in the bone area. These results suggest a tissue sensitivity that is specific to very low-frequency sinusoidal electrical fields, and they imply that the induced electrical fields need not have complex waveforms to be osteogenic. Since the frequency and intensity range of the sinusoidal fields producing the greatest osteogenic response are similar to the levels produced intrinsically by normal functional activity, these results support the hypothesis that electricity plays a role in the retention of the normal remodeling balance within mature bone.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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