Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion With rhBMP-2 in Spinal Deformity, Spondylolisthesis, and Degenerative Disease—Part 2: BMP Dosage–Related Complications and Long-term Outcomes in 509 Patients

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Study Design.

Retrospective review of prospectively collected data.


Without industry funding, the study evaluated short- and long-term complications related to off-label bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) used with transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) from a large consecutive series. Complications and results were analyzed by BMP dose, fusion length, and primary versus revision surgery. Based on the results, surgical technique and BMP dose recommendations were proposed.

Summary of Background Data.

Off-label use of BMP in TLIF, although common, has only been studied in small series and case reports using various techniques, cage types, and doses of BMP. Several of these studies have reported minimal complications. Others report problems related to BMP, which has led to questions regarding current widespread use of TLIF with BMP.


TLIF with rhBMP-2 was performed at 872 discs in 509 consecutive adults who underwent open posterior instrumented fusion and had minimum 2-year follow-up; diagnoses included degenerative disease (179), spondylolisthesis (207), deformity (123). Patient age averaged 61 years: 12% were smokers and 41% had revision surgery. TLIF was performed at 1.7 levels: single level: 229, 2 levels: 201, 3 levels: 74, 4 levels: 5. Local autograft was used for backfill around and behind each rectangular cage. Varying doses of interbody BMP were used at an average 7.3 mg per disc (range: 2–12 mg per disc).


At 5 years average follow-up, 8 patients developed pseudoarthrosis at levels of TLIF (8 of 872 discs, 0.92%). Seroma (0.4%) and ectopic bone growth (0.6%) were too infrequent to be associated with a particular BMP dose. Deep infection was 2.6% overall (1.7% of the degenerative group). Symptomatic osteolysis or cage subsidence did not occur. Significant long-term improvement was noted in clinical and functional outcomes compared with preoperation.


Five-year follow-up after TLIF with BMP, independent of industry, confirms effective arthrodesis in short and long fusions, both primary and revision. Most complications occurred in deformity patients. BMP-related complications (seroma, ectopic bone) were rare.


Level of Evidence: 3

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