Electrical stimulation therapies for spinal fusions: current concepts

Eur Spine J. 2006 Sep;15(9):1301-11. doi: 10.1007/s00586-006-0087-y. Epub 2006 Apr 8.


Electrical stimulation therapies have been used for more than 30 years to enhance spinal fusions. Although their positive effects on spinal fusions have been widely reported, the mechanisms of action of the technologies were only recently identified. Three types of technologies are available clinically: direct current, capacitive coupling, and inductive coupling. The latter is the basis of pulsed electromagnetic fields and combined magnetic fields. This review summarizes the current concepts on the mechanisms of action, animal and clinical studies, and cost justification for the use of electrical stimulation for spinal fusions. Scientific studies support the validity of electrical stimulation treatments. The mechanisms of action of each of the three electrical stimulation therapies are different. New data demonstrates that the upregulation of several growth factors may be responsible for the clinical success seen with the use of such technologies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / instrumentation
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / trends*
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Models, Animal
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Postoperative Complications / therapy
  • Pseudarthrosis / physiopathology
  • Pseudarthrosis / prevention & control
  • Pseudarthrosis / therapy
  • Spinal Fusion / instrumentation
  • Spinal Fusion / methods*
  • Spinal Fusion / trends*
  • Spine / physiology
  • Spine / radiation effects


  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins