Spine Fusion Surgery in Diabetes PatientsMedical professionals have long been concerned that patients with diabetes mellitus don't do as well after spine surgery. To date, however, there has been no research to prove--or disprove--this theory.Â
In this study, researchers looked at the records of 32 diabetic patients who had lumbar fusions. All patients had type I (insulin-dependent) or type II (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes for over a year. They were also diagnosed with lumbar stenosis or herniated discs that didn't respond to conservative treatment. They all underwent decompression and fusion surgery using the same techniques.
Researchers followed up on these patients at least two years after their surgeries. At follow-up, 78% of them reported less back pain, and 74% had less leg pain. Ten patients had problems caused by the surgery, including delayed healing, prolonged drainage, and infections. Significantly, 91% of the patients had X-rays that showed successful fusion.
Insulin-dependent patients fared the worst. About half of them had a fair or poor outcome. Patients with other medical problems also had more complications and a less successful outcome.
Despite the complications for some groups, the researchers conclude that lumbar spine surgery can be safe and effective in patients with diabetes.
John A. Bendo, MD, et al. Instrumented Posterior Arthrodesis of the Lumbar Spine in Patients With Diabetes Mellitus. In The American Journal of Orthopedics. August 2000. Vol. 29. No. 8. Pp. 617-620.
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