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Spine Surgery Patients Found to Have Low Vitamin D Levels

Posted by floriza in Spine Surgery

A new study conducted at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri has found that patients who require spine surgery are more likely to be deficient in vitamin D than the general population. The study was presented at the 26th Annual Meeting of the North American Spine Society.

The researchers studied 313 patients, all of whom had spinal fusion surgery. Over 50 percent of the patients were found to have low levels of vitamin D. Twenty-five percent of the patients had dangerously low levels of the vitamin. Besides putting the patients at risk for a variety of diseases associated with low levels of vitamin D, these deficiencies prevented the patients from recovering from spine surgery as fast as they might otherwise.

The age of the patients was surprising, as even many of the younger patients suffered the vitamin deficiency. The researchers believe this may be due to the fact that the older patients were already taking vitamin D supplements. The average age of the patients studied was 55, and 51 percent were obese. Slightly over half of the patients were women, and only five percent were of races other than Caucasian.

Those patients who were smokers or who were obese were more likely to have low levels of the vitamin. The team plans to continue the research to determine if low levels of vitamin D can lead to less positive outcomes after spinal fusion surgery.

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia, a condition that prevents the normal formation of new bone. As a result of their findings, the researchers suggest that all spine surgery patients are tested for vitamin D levels. If a deficiency is present, the recommendation is to take 50,000 IU of the vitamin weekly for two months before spinal fusion surgery.

What is Spinal Fusion?

Spinal fusion is a spine surgery procedure in which surgeons remove one or more herniated (ruptured) discs from between the vertebrae. Using hardware, the vertebrae are then attached to one another, fusing together as bone grows during the healing process. Without the necessary vitamin D to assist in bone growth, recovery can be lengthy.

Sources of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is not an easy vitamin to consume from natural sources. There are not many foods that contain the vitamin (saltwater fish and egg yolks are among the few), although some foods today have vitamin D added to them.

The main source of natural vitamin D is sunlight, but many people are not in the sun enough or cover up when outdoors. It is certainly important to protect against sunburn and skin cancer in the sun, but it is also important to obtain some regular unprotected sun exposure.

The other, easiest source of vitamin D is from supplements. The recommended daily allowance is 600 IU.

Spine surgery in New Jersey for fusion and other procedures is available throughout the state, as well as in most other states.


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