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Clin Spine Surg. 2016 Jul;29(6):E276-81. doi: 10.1097/BSD.0b013e318286fa7e.

Posterior Cervical Fusion With Recombinant Human Bone Morphogenetic Protein-2: Complications and Fusion Rate at Minimum 2-Year Follow-Up.

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Departments of *Neurosurgery†Orthopaedic Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, MO.



Retrospective case series.


The purpose of this study was to determine the fusion rate and evaluate the complications associated with the application of recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein-2 (rhBMP-2) in posterior cervical fusion.


The rates of fusion and complications associated with the use of rhBMP-2 in posterior cervical fusion is unclear, though recent work has shown up to a 100% fusion rate.


We independently reviewed consecutive series of patients who underwent posterior cervical, occipitocervical, or cervicothoracic instrumented fusion augmented with rhBMP-2. Two surgeons at a tertiary-referral, academic medical center performed all operations, and each patient had a minimum of 2-year follow-up. Fusion status was determined by bony bridging on computed tomography scans, absence of radiolucency around instrumentation, and absence of motion on lateral flexion/extension radiographs.


Fifty-seven patients with a mean age of 56.7±13.2 years and mean follow-up of 37.7±20.6 months were analyzed. Forty-eight patients (84.2%) had undergone previous cervical surgery, and 42.1% had a preexisting nonunion. Constructs spanned 5.6±2.6 levels; 19.3% involved the occiput, whereas 61.4% crossed the cervicothoracic junction. The mean rhBMP-2 dose was 21.1±8.7 mg per operation. Iliac crest autograft was used for 29.8% of patients. Six patients (10.5%) experienced nonunion; only 2 required revision. In each case of nonunion, instrumentation crossed the occipitocervical or cervicothoracic junction. However, none of the analyzed variables was statistically associated with nonunion. Fourteen patients (24.6%) suffered complications, with 7 requiring additional surgery.


The observed fusion rate of rhBMP-2-augmented posterior cervical, occipitocervical, and cervicothoracic fusions was 89.5%. This reflects the complicated nature of the patients included in the current study and demonstrates that rhBMP-2 cannot always overcome the biomechanical challenges entailed in spanning the occipitocervical or cervicothoracic junction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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