Dorsal root ganglion electrical stimulation promoted intertransverse process spinal fusion without decortications and bone grafting: A proof-of-concept study

Yuen Chi Lau, Yau Ming Lai, Kai Ting Po, Xing Qian, Hong Wei Hao, Hu Cheng Zhao, Lu Ming Li, Xia Guo

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Background context Periosteum, endosteum, and bone are innervated by sensory nerves expressing calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), which is a known osteoanabolic peptide and plays an important role in fracture healing and spinal fusion. Synthesis and release of CGRP are found in sensory neurons located in the dorsal root ganglions (DRGs) and can be upregulated by electrical stimulation (ES) at DRG.Purpose To prove our study hypothesis on the potential of precise ES at DRG through implantable microelectrical stimulation system (IMESS) for its effect on promoting spinal fusion in a rat model without decortications and bone grafting.Study design An experimental animal study.Methods A novel IMESS was developed for stimulating L4-L6 DRG in rats. Sixteen rats were used and divided equally into the control group without ES and the ES group, with a daily 20 minutes ES to DRG for 6 weeks. At the end of 6 weeks, radiography and microcomputed tomography were conducted to evaluate new bone formation and spinal fusion. Bilateral L4-L6 DRGs were harvested for immunohistochemistry and quantification of neurons with upregulated CGRP expression.Results In the ES group, rate of radiographic fusion with complete and uninterrupted bony bridging was 100% (8/8) at the right L4/L5 transverse processes and 75% (6/8) at the right L5/L6 transverse processes. Bony callus formation was absent at the left L4-L6 transverse processes in the ES group and in bilateral L4-L6 transverse processes in the control group.Conclusions We proved for the first time that precise ES at DRG through IMESS effectively promoted intertransverse process fusion in rat model without decortications and bone grafting. Electrical stimulation at DRG might be an attractive minimal invasive bioengineering approach and an alternative therapy for intertransverse process fusion that is increasingly being used for the treatment of degenerative spine disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2472-2478
Number of pages7
JournalSpine Journal
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Animal model
  • Calcitonin gene-related peptide
  • Dorsal root ganglion stimulation
  • Implantable microelectrical stimulation system
  • Minimally invasive
  • Spinal fusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology

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