The incidence of donor site pain after bone graft harvesting from the posterior iliac crest may be overestimated: a study on spine fracture patients

Diyar Delawi, Wouter J A Dhert, René M Castelein, Abraham J Verbout, F Cumhur Oner
Spine 2007 August 1, 32 (17): 1865-8

STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective cohort study on patients with traumatic vertebral fractures who underwent fusion with iliac crest bone.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the influence of low back surgery on donor site attributed pain, we compared donor site pain between patients who underwent high and low level fusions.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: The most common complication of posterior iliac crest bone graft harvesting is postoperative pain at the donor site. The incidence of donor site pain after bone graft harvesting from the posterior iliac crest is mainly reported from studies in patients who underwent low lumbar or lumbosacral surgery. The close proximity of the primary surgery to the iliac crest could interfere with the reported incidence of donor site pain.

METHODS: Questionnaires regarding the iliac crest morbidity were sent to patients who underwent instrumented posterolateral fusion after traumatic spinal fractures. The incidence of donor site attributed pain was compared between patients whose fusion was between T2 and L2, with patients whose fusion extended to L3 or more caudally.

RESULTS: In patients with a fusion of high levels, the donor site pain was significantly lower compared with patients with fusion of low levels (14.3% vs. 40.9%).

CONCLUSION: Patients probably cannot differentiate between donor site pain and residual low back pain. The reported incidence of pain related to posterior iliac crest bone graft harvesting may therefore be overestimated.

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