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Eur Spine J. 2011 Nov;20(11):1791-5. doi: 10.1007/s00586-011-1736-3. Epub 2011 Mar 6.

Autografts for spinal fusion: osteogenic potential of laminectomy bone chips and bone shavings collected via high speed drill.

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3rd Orthopedic Department, Orthopedic Hospital Vienna-Speising, Speisinger Str. 109, 1130 Vienna, Austria.


In case of revision or minimal invasive spinal surgery, the amount of autograft possibly harvested from the lamina and the spinous processes is limited. Ekanayake and Shad (Acta Neurochir 152:651-653, 2010) suggest the application of bone shavings harvested via high speed burr additionally or instead, but so far no data regarding their osteogenic potential exist. Aim of the study was to compare the osteogenic potential of bone chips and high speed burr shavings, and to evaluate the applicability of bone shavings as an autograft for spinal fusion. Bone chips and shavings from 14 patients undergoing spinal decompression surgery were analyzed using in vitro tissue culture methods. Osteoblast emigration and proliferation, viability and mineralization were investigated and histological evaluation was performed. Bone chips from all patients showed successful osteoblast emigration after average 5.5 days. In contrast, only 57% of the corresponding bone shavings successfully demonstrated osteoblast emigration within an average time span of 14.8 days. Average osteoblast mobilisation was 1.25 × 10(6) cells per gram from bone chips and 1.73 × 10(5) cells per gram from the corresponding bone shavings. No difference was observed regarding cell viability, but population doubling times of bone chip cultures were significantly lower (50.5 vs. 121 h) and mineralization was observed in osteoblasts derived from bone chips only. Although some authors suggest the general applicability of laminectomy bone shavings as autografts for spinal fusion, autologous bone grafts obtained from laminectomy bone chips are superior in terms of cell delivery, cell proliferation and mineralization.

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