Complications in the Use of rhBMP-2 in PEEK Cages for Interbody Spinal Fusions

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Study Design

All patients of spinal interbody fusion using polyetheretherketone (PEEK) cages and recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein (rhBMP)-2 performed over a 16-month period were reviewed.


To determine the suitability of PEEK cages when used in conjunction with rhBMP-2 in interbody spinal fusion.

Summary of Background Data

Bone morphogenetic proteins are increasingly being used in spinal fusion to promote osteogenesis. PEEK is a semicrystalline aromatic polymer that is used as a structural spacer to maintain the disc and foraminal height. Their use has led to increased and predictable rates of fusion. However, not many reports of the adverse effects of their use are available.


Fifty-nine consecutive patients of interbody spinal fusion in the cervical or lumbar spine using a PEEK cage and rhBMP-2 were followed for an average of 26 months after surgery. A clinical examination and a record of Oswestry Disability Index, Visual Analog Scale for pain, and a pain diagram were performed preoperatively and at every follow-up visit. All patients had plain radiographs carried out to assess fusion. Ten patients of lumbar spine fusion were additionally evaluated with a computed tomography scan.


All cases demonstrated an appreciable amount of new bone formation by 6 to 9 months in the cervical spine and by 9 to 12 months in the lumbar spine. End plate resorption was visible radiologically in all cervical spine fusions and majority of lumbar fusions. Cage migration was observed to occur maximally in patients with transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion and posterior lumbar interbody fusion. Disc space subsidence was seen in both cervical and lumbar arthrodesis with the latter showing a lesser incidence, but with a greater degree of collapse.


PEEK cages and rhBMP-2 when used in spinal fusion give consistently good fusion rates. However, the early role of BMP in the resorptive phase may cause loosening, cage migration, and subsidence.

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