The Application of Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMFs) for Bone Fracture Repair: Past and Perspective Findings

Abstract

Bone fractures are one of the most commonly occurring injuries of the musculoskeletal system. A highly complex physiological process, fracture healing has been studied extensively. Data from in vivo, in vitro and clinical studies, have shown pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs) to be highly influential in the fracture repair process. Whilst the underlying mechanisms acting to either inhibit or advance the physiological processes are yet to be defined conclusively, several non-invasive point of use devices have been developed for the clinical treatment of fractures. With the complexity of the repair process, involving many components acting at different time steps, it has been a challenge to determine which PEMF exposure parameters (i.e., frequency of field, intensity of field and dose) will produce the most optimal repair. In addition, the development of an evidence-backed device comes with challenges of its own, with many elements (including process of exposure, construct materials and tissue densities) being highly influential to the field exposed. The objective of this review is to provide a broad recount of the applications of PEMFs in bone fracture repair and to then demonstrate what is further required for enhanced therapeutic outcomes.

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Acknowledgments

This research is supported by RMIT University, through the SECE Top Up Scholarship and the RMIT Enabling Capability Platform Capability Development Fund.

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Correspondence to C. Daish.

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Associate editor Michael R. Torry oversaw the review of this article.

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Daish, C., Blanchard, R., Fox, K. et al. The Application of Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMFs) for Bone Fracture Repair: Past and Perspective Findings. Ann Biomed Eng 46, 525–542 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10439-018-1982-1

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Keywords

  • Tissue scale
  • Bone repair
  • Cell scale
  • Review
  • Computational modeling
  • Clinical devices