Spinal fusions are among the most common and effective spinal surgical practices; however, the current model presents some cost and safety concerns within the patient population. Therefore, enhanced biomaterials have been presented to be an innovative yet underutilized tool to supplement the success of spinal fusion surgery. Herein, the authors discuss these biomaterials, their compositions, clinical outcomes, and cost analysis through a systematic review of the literature to date.
This systematic review was conducted using the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) criteria and guidelines. Article selection was performed using the PubMed electronic bibliographic databases. The search yielded 1168 articles that were assessed and filtered for relevance by the four authors. Following the screening of titles and abstracts, 62 articles were deemed significant enough for final selection.
To date, silicon nitride, bioactive glass, amino peptide bone grafts, and tantalum are all biomaterials that could have significant roles in supporting spinal fusion. Their unique compositions allow them to be biocompatible in the spine, and their mechanisms of action stimulate osteoblast formation and support fusion success. Moreover, these biomaterials also present positive clinical and cost outcomes that support their application in spinal procedures. However, further studies with longer follow-ups are necessary to fully understand these biomaterials prior to their incorporation in mainstream spinal practice.
The combination of their positive clinical outcomes, biocompatibility, and cost-effectiveness makes these biomaterials valuable, innovative, and effective treatment modalities that could revolutionize the current model of spinal fusion.