Bone Morphogenetic Proteins

Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are substances used in place of bone grafts in spinal fusions because of their ability to stimulate bone growth. Found naturally in the body, BMPs can also be created in the laboratory. While FDA-approved for use in spinal fusion surgeries, BMPs cannot be used for cervical spinal procedures because of the possibility of adverse reactions that may interfere with breathing or swallowing.

There are several different types of BMPs. Recent research has shown one type to be effective in treating chronic kidney disease.

There are a number of benefits to the surgical use of BMPs as opposed to bone grafts. During a fusion, bone grafts may be harvested from another part of the patient's own body or from a donor bank. In either case, there are possible complications to be considered that do not exist with the use of BMPs. In addition, BMPs do not simply serve as fillers, but actually stimulate bone growth, producing successful results.

While BMPs represent an advance in bone fusion procedures, they do have certain disadvantages. Beyond the possibility of allergic reactions that can sometimes be dangerous, these substances are rather costly. Also, since they are a developing treatment, their long-term side effects remain unknown. At present, BMPs are contraindicated for children, pregnant women, and patients with tumors or infections adjacent to the surgical site.

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