High Chromium Levels in Scoliosis Patients Treated with Fusion

Interesting study out this week on high chromium levels in pediatric patients treated with long spine fusion (Harrington rods or equivalent). Apparently, the theory is that this metal is leaching from the fusion hardware, leading to possible long-term side effects including cancer or reproductive issues.  This comes on the heels of a report several weeks ago that we do too many fusions in this country for low back pain and that these fusions have a much higher complication rate without any proven added benefit.  This report today is very concerning to say the least, as this may be a new risk for fusion patients with certain types of rods or screws.   In my opinion as a clinician that sees many patients with chronic spinal pain, fusion can be a lifesaver for the right patient, but our rates of fusion are at least 5 or 10 times higher than what’s likely necessary to treat the few patients where there is a clear benefit (IMHO).

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Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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NOTE: This blog post provides general information to help the reader better understand regenerative medicine, musculoskeletal health, and related subjects. All content provided in this blog, website, or any linked materials, including text, graphics, images, patient profiles, outcomes, and information, are not intended and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always consult with a professional and certified healthcare provider to discuss if a treatment is right for you.

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