Protein Supplement and Enhanced Recovery After Posterior Spine Fusion Surgery: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Trial

Clin Spine Surg. 2022 Apr 1;35(3):E356-E362. doi: 10.1097/BSD.0000000000001222.


Study design: This was a randomized, double-blind clinical trial study.

Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of protein supplementation on vertebral fusion and enhanced recovery after posterior spine fusion (PSF) surgery.

Summary of background data: Nonfusion is one of the most common complications of lumbar spine surgery. It has been shown that protein plays an important role in bone repair; however, its correlation to vertebral fusion following PSF surgery is unknown.

Patients and methods: In this randomized, double-blind clinical trial study, the intervention group received a diet with 1.2 g of protein plus high-protein supplement (36 g whey protein), and the control group received a similar diet, except for starch as a placebo from 48 hours before to 1 month after surgery.

Results: The intervention group showed a significantly higher rate of vertebral fusion compared with the control group (P=0.019). Surgical site infection and pain were significantly lower in the intervention group. A significant difference was found in the wound healing rate in favor of the intervention group. The rates of decrease in serum high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels and increase in serum levels of insulin-like growth factor 1, albumin, total protein, and alkaline phosphatase were greater in the intervention group than in the control group (P<0.001).

Conclusions: Increased protein intake improves vertebral fusion and enhances recovery in patients undergoing PSF. This was the first study to investigate the effect of protein on fusion and healing factors; as a result, further clinical trials are needed to confirm the current results.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Spinal Diseases*
  • Spinal Fusion* / methods
  • Treatment Outcome