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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About the Author
Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in regenerative medicine and the clinical use of mesenchymal stem cells in orthopedics. He is board certified in physical medicine as well as rehabilitation and in pain management through The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.…