The Fusion Rate of Calcium Sulfate With Local Autograft Bone Compared With Autologous Iliac Bone Graft for Instrumented Short-Segment Spinal Fusion

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Study Design.

A prospective study.


To compare the efficacy of calcium sulfate pellets plus laminectomy bone chips with a fresh autologous iliac bone graft for short-segment lumbar fusion.

Summary of Background Data.

Bone graft substitute material can be used to expand an existing quantity of available laminectomy bone chips.


Seventy-four patients underwent surgery for instrumented one- or two-segment fusion with decompression. Autologous iliac crest bone graft was placed in one posterolateral gutter, while on the other side, an equal quantity of autogenous laminectomy bone supplemented with calcium sulfate was placed. Radiographic assessment included radiographs alone; this was performed every 3 months (3 months to 12 months), then annually. The status of fusion and the relative size of the fusion bone mass on either side of the vertebra were compared.


Using iliac crest bone graft (control side) versus autograft laminectomy bone with calcium sulfate (test side), there was no significant difference between the fusion rate and sizes of the fusion bone mass (P > 0.05). Follow-up periods ranged from 30 months to 34 months, averaging 32.5 months. For the 39 patients who received single-segment fusion, 34 patients (87.2%) exhibited bone fusion on the test side, and 35 patients (89.7%) had evidence of fusion on the control side. For the 35 patients who received two-segment fusion, 29 patients (82.9%) exhibited bone fusion on the test side and 30 patients (85.7%) demonstrated complete fusion on the control side.


The fusion rate and fusion size between the two groups are similar. Calcium sulfate pellets may play a role as a bone graft extender in short-segment spinal fusion.

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