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Christina Sayama, Matthew Willsey, Murali Chintagumpala, Alison Brayton, Valentina Briceño, Sheila L. Ryan, Thomas G. Luerssen, Steven W. Hwang and Andrew Jea


The aim of this study was to determine the safety of recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein–2 (rhBMP-2) use in posterior instrumented fusions in the pediatric population, focusing on cancer risk. In a previous study, the authors reported the short-term (mean follow-up of 11 months) safety and efficacy of rhBMP-2 in the pediatric age group. The present study reports their results with a minimum of 24 months' follow-up.


The authors retrospectively reviewed 57 consecutive cases involving pediatric patients who underwent posterior occiptocervical, cervical, thoracic, lumbar, or lumbosacral spine fusion from October 1, 2007, to June 30, 2011, at Texas Children's Hospital. Seven cases were excluded from further analysis because of loss to follow-up. Three patients died during the follow-up period and were placed in a separate cohort.


The patients' average age at the time of surgery was 11 years, 4 months (range 9 months to 20 years). The mean duration of follow-up was 48.4 months (range 24–70 months). Cancer status was determined at the most recent encounter with the patient and/or caretaker(s) in person, or in telephone follow-up. Twenty-four or more months after administration of rhBMP-2, there were no cases of new malignancy, degeneration, or metastasis of existing tumors. The cause of death of the patients who died during the study period was not related to BMP or to the development, degeneration, or metastasis of cancer.


Despite the large number of adult studies reporting increased cancer risk associated with BMP use, the authors' outcomes with rhBMP-2 in the pediatric population suggest that it is a safe adjunct to posterior spine fusions of the occipitocervical, cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and lumbosacral spine. There were no new cases of cancer, or degeneration or metastasis of existing malignancies in this series.