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Bone stimulator

sharyn51ssharyn51 Posts: 20
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:49 AM in Recovering from Surgery
I was wondering how many of us wear a bone growth stimulator after surgery? My surgeon is emphatic about it. I wore it for 6 weeks in 2006 after my first fusion. Now I am 1 month post op 2 level fusion and wearing one again. (I M HEALTHY WITH GOOD BONE DENSITY, ETC)

A friend of mine has 4 levels fused and her surgeon never recommended one. She is not exactly a healthy specimen of a woman, HAS OSTEOPOROSIS

any comments?


  • I am on my 2nd fusion and have never had a bone stimulator. Dont know what makes the difference. I just know neither of my surgeons use them to my knowledge.
  • I never had one for either of my fusions, and none of the people I know who had fusions were given one either. But I do read about them on here quite a bit.

    I did ask my surgeon if he ever uses them and he said rarely, and only when he has a strong suspicion that there might be a problem growing bone.
  • After my second cervical fusion I had to wear a stimulator for 9 months , 3 hours a day. The reason my ortho gave me at the time was that they removed the hardware from the first fusion at c5-c6 and c6-c7 to make room for the new hardware at c3-c4 and c4-c5. He just wanted to make sure that both sites were growing bone. The next surgery I am having is a posterior fusion from c3 to t3 with a bone graft and they are telling me a bone stim for 10-12 hours a day (mostly when sleeping) and did not give me a time frame as far as lenght of time.I think some of it depends on the surgeon and how many levels have been done.
  • Hi;
    I had a 2 level lumbar fusion 3/19/10, and i wore a bone stim. for 6 months.
    It was a orthofix brand.
  • I had a 2 level ACDF C5-6 C6-7 on 12/9/2010. My OSS told me that if you have a multi level or at high risk such as a smoker which I am not he recommends a bone stim. I have the one that goes around your neck and have to wear it for 4 hours a day. At 6 weeks there was not bone growth seen on my x rays. Hopefully things will be different when I go at 12 weeks.
  • I had 2 level ACDF in July 2011. I just had my 6 month check up, and doctor recommend I start using a bone stimulator. Gee, thanks. Why couldn't he have had be start it immediately after surgery, or maybe even at the 3 month mark? A 2 level and above surgery is considered "high risk" for not fusing. From what I understand, there is no harm in using one, other than a little inconvenience. My insurance deductible is $5,000, about the cost of the device, so my insurance will be useless for this.

    Advice to others: Make sure you have a discussion with your surgeon about whether he thinks you would benefit from one. The way I see it, the goal is to recover from surgery as soon as possible, and if a stimulator will help that, why not use it? If the patient is willing to use one, he should be given that opportunity SOONER, rather than LATER. You also need to time the purchase so your insurance company will cover it. Do it too late, like I'm going to do, and you end up paying "out of pocket."
  • Hi...I had 2 level ACDF (C 5-6-7) on December 14, 2011. I was given the BGS prior to surgery and instructed to wear it beginning 2 weeks after surgery...four hours a day for 6 months. I cried the first time I wore it (only 35 mins) because it put so much weight/pressure on my shoulders. I was able to wear it at 3 weeks post-op, and continue to now (I am almost 7 weeks out)...but I HATE every minute of it. I have to use a travel pillow, in front to lift it off my shoulders and chest.

    I do not smoke, have good bone density, etc...but my NS recommended it for me.

    I will have x-rays done at my 10 week follow-up appointment. I hope there is some fusion taking place!

    As I have read through this wonderful site and different posts, the thing that amazes me is how different every doctor/patient is. Some have to wear collars for weeks or months, not me. Some have no BGS, I do. It is really strange.

  • Jan, you're absolutely right that it is strange that there are so many methods of treating patients post-surgically, that it's really confusing and also worrisome that there doesn't seem to be any standardization. I had ACDF surgery and was not told to use a bone stimulator right after surgery, even though I have two risk factors in favor of using one: Obesity and multi-level surgery. Now, after six months of "healing," my doctor just ordered one. My xrays show bone fusing, but it's just not happening fast enough. Whether the bone stimulator will increase the healing is only a hope. Also unknown if I'd get the same benefit from it now that I might have gotten immediately after surgery. Another thing I have to do is increase my walking. I've been doing an hour daily, and am going to have to get it up to two hours daily.
  • I had a TLIF at L4-S1 in Jan 11. An xray at 4 weeks post op showed bone growth. My surgeon did not prescribe a brace, nor a BGS.

    Fast forward through 2011. My recovery became problematic with different, persisent and increasing pain. We tried MRI, PT, meds, EMG, CT and bone scan. The results were not conclusive for nerve damage nor for a psuedoarthro, yet my pain continues to be conclusive. Just last week I was provided a BGS. Wearing it 4 hours a day until my next appt in March. Surgeon asked me to seriously consider revision surgery as an option. We'll see how this BGS works. What's odd is that all of my imagery since the surgery showed steadily increasing masses of bone growth.

    My surgeon is puzzled and I am in pain. I was one of those ideal candidates (59 years old, non smoker, physically fit, non diabetic, low BMI, no prior surgeries, etc.).

    I agree with what both of you stated - each patient is unique, each surgeon is unique, each surgery is unique and each outcome is unique. Regardless of the first three, I just wish the last one would always be successfully unique!
  • Jim,

    I’m no expert, but I tend to think bone growth is relatively easy to achieve. What’s more important is the rate of that bone growth. If it’s not fast enough, or appears to just stop, your doctor will probably tell you to use a BGS. By the way, I notice you had lumber sugery. I suspect the experiences for lumbar surgery are not always the same as for cervical surgery, which might seem strange, since they both involve nerve. Sadly, I have concluded the much ofspine surgery is just one big crap shoot. It’s not necessarily the doctors’ fault, because many are highly trained and experienced. Nerve problems seem to be just for whatever reason really difficult to understand at time. Why else would your doctor have you do all those things after surgery in trying to relieve your pain, if he wasn’t practically “flailing around” trying to find something that would work?

    If it helps at all, this is how my surgeon would probably approach it: “Treat the person, not the x rays or tests.” That means he often doesn’t like to use EMGs, because while they may show nerve damage or improper functioning, they don’t often tell what caused the damage, and without that, how can you decide how to fix it? My surgeon may also express puzzlement, but he would also say there are no guarantees about eliminating pain. I find that very frustrating, but unfortunately realize it might be true.
    Best of luck with that BGS! Hope it helps.
  • I had a 4 level cervical surgery January 21 and have been using a stimulator for 2 weeks for 4 hours a day. I am uncertain how long I will be doing this, my first appt after surgery is Feb 29. I want to believe its doing its job I have heard many people say they are common.
  • How long you will use it is really a question for your doctor. What did he/she say? Length of time generally depends on the x rays and on the healing progression. I suspect one reason you got the stimulator is because you had a multi-level fusion, which is one risk factor for fusion being more difficult. I hope you will consider using the bone stimulator as nothing more than a minor inconvenience. The more important question is has or will the surgery eliminate or reduce your pain? You are too early in recovery to answer that question, so cross your fingers that it will, and follow your doctor's instructions religiously!! Good luck!
  • I'm 5 wks post op from spinal fusion on L3, L4, L5. My doc says to wear the spine stim 4 hrs per day. If I wear it 4 hours straight, I seem to have more pain in my lower back and in surgery area. If I break it up into 2 2hour stints, the pain isn't as bad. Does anyone really know of any side effects from this device?
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