Increased Swelling Complications Associated With Off-Label Usage of rhBMP-2 in the Anterior Cervical Spine

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Study Design/Setting.Independent, retrospective clinical record review with a concurrent control.Objective.To identify whether rhBMP-2 is associated with an increased incidence of clinically relevant postoperative prevertebral swelling problems in patients undergoing anterior cervical fusions.Summary of Background Data.Bone Morphogenetic Protein-2 (rhBMP-2) is FDA approved as a bone graft substitute in anterior lumbar interbody fusions. rhBMP-2 has also been used “off-label” in anterior cervical fusions. We suspected that rhBMP-2 might increase the incidence of adverse swelling events.Methods.A total of 234 consecutive patients (ages 12–82 years) undergoing anterior cervical fusion with and without rhBMP-2 over a 2-year period at one institution comprised the study population. The incidence of clinically relevant prevertebral swelling was calculated. The populations were compared and statistical significance was determined.Results.A total of 234 patients met the study criteria, 69 of whom underwent anterior cervical spine fusions using rhBMP-2; 27.5% of those patients in the rhBMP-2 group had a clinically significant swelling event versus only 3.6% of patients in the non-rhBMP-2 group. This difference was statistically significant (P < 0.0001) and remained so after controlling for other significant predictors of swelling.Conclusions.Off-label use of rhBMP-2 in the anterior cervical spine is associated with an increased rate of clinically relevant swelling events.

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