Long-term pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) results in congenital pseudarthrosis

Calcif Tissue Int. 1991 Sep;49(3):216-20. doi: 10.1007/BF02556121.


Ninety-one patients with congenital pseudarthrosis of the tibia have been treated with pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs) since 1973 and all except 4 followed to puberty. Lesions were stratified by roentgenographic appearance. Type I and type II had gaps less than 5 mm in width. Type III were atrophic, spindled, and had gaps in excess of 5 mm. Overall success in type I and II lesions was 43 of 60 (72%). Of those 28 patients seen before operative repair had been attempted, 7 of 8 type I lesions healed (88%), whereas 16 of 20 type II lesions healed (80%) on PEMFs and immobilization alone. Only 19% (6 of 31) type III lesions united, only one of which did not require surgery. Sixteen of 91 limbs (18%) were ultimately amputed, most before treatment principles were fully defined in 1980. Fourteen of these 16 patients (88%) had type III lesions. Refracture occurred in 22 patients, most as the result of significant trauma, in the absence of external brace support. Twelve of the 19 refractures, retreated with PEMFs and casts, healed on this regime. Episodic use of PEMFs proved effective in controlling stress fractures in several patients until they reached puberty. PEMFs, which are associated with no known risk, appear to be an effective, conservative adjunct in the management of this therapeutically challenging, congenital lesions.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amputation, Surgical
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Fractures, Ununited / epidemiology
  • Fractures, Ununited / pathology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Pseudarthrosis / congenital
  • Pseudarthrosis / radiotherapy*
  • Pseudarthrosis / surgery
  • Tibia / radiation effects
  • Tibia / surgery
  • Time Factors
  • X-Rays