Medical optimization of lumbar fusion in the osteoporotic patient



In patients undergoing lumbar fusion, osteoporosis has been shown to lead to poorer outcomes and greater incidence of fusion-related complications. Given the undesirable effect of osteoporosis on lumbar fusion surgery, a number of medications have been proposed for use in the peri- and postoperative period to mitigate risks and enhance outcomes. The purpose of this review was to summarize and synthesize the current literature regarding medical management of osteoporosis in the context of lumbar fusion surgery.


A literature search of PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science was conducted in October 2016, using permutations of various search terms related to osteoporosis, medications, and lumbar fusion.


Teriparatide injections may lead to faster, more successful fusion, and may reduce fusion-related complications. Bisphosphonate therapy likely does not hinder fusion outcomes and may be useful in reducing certain complications of fusion in osteoporotic patients. Calcitonin and selective estrogen receptor modulator therapy show mixed results, but more research is necessary to make a recommendation. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with poor fusion outcomes, but evidence for supplementation in patients with normal serum levels is weak.


Overall, the current body of research appears to support the use of teriparatide therapy to enhance lumbar fusion outcomes in the osteoporotic patient, although the extent of research on this topic is limited. Additionally, very little evidence exists to cease any of the mentioned osteoporosis treatments prior to lumbar fusion.

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Fig. 1


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Correspondence to Woojin Cho.

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Morris, M.T., Tarpada, S.P., Tabatabaie, V. et al. Medical optimization of lumbar fusion in the osteoporotic patient. Arch Osteoporos 13, 26 (2018).

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  • Osteoporosis
  • Lumbar spine
  • Lumbar fusion
  • Medical treatment
  • Fusion rate
  • Bone mineral density
  • Teriparatide
  • Bisphosphonates
  • Selective estrogen receptor modulators
  • Calcitonin
  • Vitamin D