Spinal Fusions under Fire

Two X-rays showing the results of spinal fusion surgeries


Interesting article out this week in the Wall Street Journal about the lack of efficacy of spinal fusions and the significant royalty payments made to some surgeons for implanting a certain company’s hardware. In addition, this past month, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina has stated that it will no longer pay for fusion for low back pain. Like many physicians offering regenerative medicine solutions for the spine, we’ve never been big fans of spinal fusions, with many studies showing high complication rates and a frequent need to fuse the level above or below the fusion, due to overload of these segments. Having said that, for some patients (like the one I saw this morning), with true instability, a fusion can be a good, but imperfect, solution. Rather than fusion, we’re usually able to use other tools like platelet rich plasma injections under ultrasound or fluoroscopic guidance to tighten ligaments to prevent excessive motion. We’ve published on this ability to tighten ligaments in the neck using only injections. We also use Regenexx-PL injections to help decrease nerve pain and hopefully to increase blood flow around the nerve. In addition, Regenexx-C has helped many patients avoid low back disc surgery.

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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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