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.
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