15. February 2005 · Comments Off on Back Problems? Has Your Doctor Suggested BMP? · Categories: Technology

Conventional back fusion surgery is involved, expensive, has a long recovery time, and isn’t sure-fire. This new technique appears to be a massive leap ahead:

BMP Fusion

Dr. Charles Rosen believes there’s a better way. For the last two years, Rosen and about 2,000 other spine surgeons around the country have been using a genetically engineered human protein to encourage the spine to grow its own bone – and leave the poor hip out of it.

In a four-hour surgery, surgeons place bone morphogenic protein, or BMP, in a titanium cage between the vertebrae that need to be fused. BMP acts as a kind of bat signal, calling stemcellsto swarm the site and grow new bone. The body contains its own morphogenic protein in small amounts, but not nearly enough to grow bone at the rate required for surgery, Rosen said.

“It’s the exact protein that the human body produces when it needs to have bone formed,” Rosen said. “It’s synthetic, but it’s exact.”

Since BMP received FDA approval in 2002, 100,000 surgeries have been performed in the United States. That’s a small percentage of the 115,000 spinal-fusion surgeries performed each year, and Medicare doesn’t cover the procedure. But Blue Cross of California and other insurers are recognizing the benefit of the surgery and are starting to pick up the tab, and Rosen expects BMP to become the industry standard.

“We’re getting close to 100 percent fusion success rates, which is unheard of. From my standpoint, it’s incredible,” Rosen said.

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