Spinal Bone Stimulator Efficacy After Total Lumbar Fusion

Posted by lobito @lobito, Dec 2, 2022

Hi All,
In July I had my Lumbar completely fused at Mayo from the L2 to the S1 in order to correct a botched TLIF fusion from my L3-L5 done here locally in KC. I have continued extreme pain in lower back near the S1-L5. Upon my first in person post op appointment in early November and detailed CT scan of my Lumbar, it showed that I am not growing bone in that region and, moreover, the screws are loose (lucency). Lack of growth, the doc said, was more thank likely due to the very serious E-Coli infection I contracted after the surgery that infected my Lumbar and moved via blood stream to my brain. I was in the ICU for a few days and then the hospital for the entire month of August with rehabilitation and IV antibiotics.

My surgeon told me that a bone stimulator may help. One was ordered and fortunately insurance paid for it. I have been using the device for a few days now. I am wondering if anyone has used one and whether it induced bone growth. My surgeon feels it is worth a shot. If it doesn't work, I am going to have to the entire surgery redone, since the E-Coli could still linger on the metal to the top. I loathe that possibility with yet another infection possible not to mention the rehab needed. And even if the stimulator works some, it may not provide enough growth to anchor the screws in place. Your input is appreciated. Thanks!

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Hello @lobito and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect.

Members such as @bernese53 and @ken82 have shared their experiences with lumbar fusions and may be able to share if they know anything about bone stimulators.

In the meantime, I found an article you may find to be of interest.

– Efficacy of Electrical Stimulators for Bone Healing: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Sham-Controlled Trials:
Do you have hesitancies with considering a bone stimulator or do you feel it is the next right step for you?


Thanks @amandajro!

I will inquire and read the article. A stimulator is really the only option prior to another surgery. I don't have any hesitancy using it. But I feel my surgeon, going by statistics, and compounded by having RA and taking immunosuppressant drugs, is not optimistic there will be sufficient bone growth by March and that surgery is (will be) the only option to mitigate the pain and prevent a full collapse. I have used a stimulator before with a Jones Fracture in my foot to some effect, but it took over 6 months and did not generate enough bone eventually avoid a non-union.

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