Background: Autologous cancellous bone is the most effective biological graft material. However, harvest of autologous bone is associated with significant morbidity. Since porous hydroxyapatite and beta-tricalcium phosphate are biodegradable materials and can be replaced by bone tissue, but it lacks osteogenic property. We conducted a study to assess their use as a scaffold and combine them with bone marrow aspirate for bone regeneration using its osteogenic property for posterolateral spinal fusion on one side and autologous bone graft on the other side and compare them radiologically in terms of graft incorporation and fusion.
Materials and methods: Thirty patients with unstable dorsal and lumbar spinal injuries who needed posterior stabilization and fusion were evaluated in this prospective study from October 2005 to March 2008. The posterior stabilization was done using pedicle screw and rod assembly, and fusion was done using hydroxyapatite and beta-tricalcium phosphate mixed with bone marrow aspirate as a bone graft substitute over one side of spine and autologous bone graft obtained from iliac crest over other side of spine. The patients were followed up to a minimum of 12 months. Serial radiographs were done at an interval of 3, 6, and 12 months and CT scan was done at one year follow-up. Graft incorporation and fusion were assessed at each follow-up. The study was subjected to statistical analysis using chi-square and kappa test to assess graft incorporation and fusion.
Results: At the end of the study, radiological graft incorporation and fusion was evident in all the patients on the bone graft substitute side and in 29 patients on the autologous bone graft side of the spine (P > 0.05). One patient showed lucency and breakage of distal pedicle screw in autologous bone graft side. The interobserver agreement (kappa) had an average of 0.72 for graft incorporation, 0.75 for fusion on radiographs, and 0.88 for the CT scan findings.
Conclusion: Hydroxyapatite and beta-tricalcium phosphate mixed with bone marrow aspirate seems to be a promising alternative to conventional autologous iliac bone graft for posterolateral spinal fusion.
Keywords: Beta-tricalcium phosphate; bone marrow aspirate; hydroxyapatite; posterolateral spinal fusion.