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Friday's Health Report: Surgeries can strengthen, stabilize spine for osteopenia, osteoporosis patients

2 months 1 day 16 hours ago Friday, May 17 2024 May 17, 2024 May 17, 2024 5:45 PM May 17, 2024 in Health
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE — Osteopenia and osteoporosis are both conditions in which bones become less dense and can break more easily. Bone density issues are common among spinal surgery patients who are 50 and older.

Making sure a patient's bones are as healthy as possible before undergoing spinal surgery has been shown to lower the rate of complications.

"These are already high-risk surgeries. And so we want to get the risks as low as possible before proceeding," Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon Benjamin Elder said.

Elder says some surgeries involve attaching screws or other hardware to strengthen and stabilize the spine.

"If you think about putting a screw into drywall or into a stud, there's a big difference. And so some of the patients with severe bone density issues or severe osteoporosis, their bone is not even drywall, it's kind of the paper on the drywall. So if we put screws into it, they'll pull out immediately," he said.

Mayo Clinic neurosurgeons and endocrinologists, who specialize in bone metabolism, work together to help patients improve bone mineral density before spinal surgery.

One patient had a year of bone-strengthening therapy before spinal surgery to prevent screw loosening. The therapy can include medications that help build bone back up, as well as implementing lifestyle changes.

"Before any sort of our spine fusion surgeries, we make patients stop all nicotine use, as that has a significant decline in the fusion rate. And it can also have effects on wound healing," Elder said.

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