Laparoscopic Anterior Spinal Arthrodesis with rhBMP-2 in a Titanium Interbody Threaded Cage

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Anterior lumbar interbody arthrodesis is commonly performed for conditions involving infection, deformity, and instability. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the effective dose of recombinant human bone morpho-genetic protein-2 (rhBMP-2) as a bone graft substitute inside a titanium threaded interbody fusion cage using a nonhuman primate model of laparoscopic anterior lumbar interbody arthrodesis. Eight adult rhesus monkeys underwent laparoscopic exposure of the lumbosacral spine followed by insertion of a hollow titanium threaded cylindrical cage (Sofamor-Danek, Memphis, TN, U.S.A.). Before insertion, the chamber of the cage was filled with a collagen sponge delivery vehicle soaked with either 0 mg/ml (sham, buffer only), 0.75 mg/ml (low dose), or 1.5 mg/ml (high dose) of rhBMP-2 (Genetics Institute, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A.). Fusions were evaluated in a blinded fashion with plain radiographs and computed tomography (CT) scans 12 and 24 weeks after surgery, and by manual palpation and histology after euthanasia 24 weeks after surgery. All five monkeys treated with a cage filled with rhBMP-2 obtained a solid fusion as assessed by manual palpation. The two monkeys that received no growth factor did not achieve solid fusions. Plain radiographs were of limited value, with fusions best assessed on sagittally reconstructed CT scans. Scans from the two animals treated without growth factor showed ingrowth of bone only into the outer edges of the cage, but not through the center. Scans from the rhBMP-2-treated animals demonstrated arthrodesis with continuous bone growth through the cage. Histologic analysis demonstrated normal mature trabecular bone surrounding and growing through the cages, which correlated with the CT scan findings. We conclude that rhBMP-2 delivered in a threaded titanium interbody cage can serve as a bone graft substitute in a nonhuman primate model. Sagittal reconstructed CT may be a better method to assess for fusion with this device.

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