Osteoporosis treatment in patients undergoing spinal fusion: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Vaidya Govindarajan, Anthony Diaz, Roberto J. Perez-Roman, S. Shelby Burks, Michael Y. Wang, Allan D. Levi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE Bisphosphonates and teriparatide are the most common therapies used in the treatment of osteoporosis. Their impact on fusion rates in osteoporotic patients following spinal fusion has yet to be concretely defined, with previous systematic reviews focusing heavily on bisphosphonates and lacking clinical insight on the utility of teriparatide. Herein the authors present an updated meta-analysis of the utility of both bisphosphonates and teriparatide in improving spinal fusion outcomes in osteoporotic patients. METHODS After a comprehensive search of the English-language literature in the PubMed and Embase databases, 11 clinical studies were included in the final qualitative and quantitative analyses. Of these studies, 9 investigated bisphosphonates, 7 investigated teriparatide, and 1 investigated a combination of teriparatide and denosumab. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated where appropriate. RESULTS A meta-analysis of the postoperative use of bisphosphonate demonstrated better odds of successful fusion as compared to that in controls during short-term monitoring (OR 3.33, 95% CI 1.72–6.42, p = 0.0003) but not long-term monitoring (p > 0.05). Bisphosphonate use was also shown to significantly reduce the likelihood of postoperative vertebral compression fracture (VCF; OR 0.07, 95% CI 0.01–0.59, p = 0.01) and significantly reduce Oswestry Disability Index scores (mean difference [MD] = −2.19, 95% CI −2.94 to −1.44, p < 0.00001) and visual analog scale pain scores (MD = −0.58, 95% CI −0.79 to −0.38, p < 0.00001). Teriparatide was found to significantly increase fusion rates at long-term postoperative periods as compared to rates after bisphosphonate therapy, with patients who received postoperative teriparatide therapy 2.05 times more likely to experience successful fusion (OR 2.05, 95% CI 1.17–3.59, p = 0.01). CONCLUSIONS The authors demonstrate the benefits of bisphosphonate and teriparatide therapy independently in accelerating fusion during the first 6 months after spinal fusion surgery in osteoporotic patients. In addition, they show that teriparatide may have superior benefits in spinal fusion during long-term monitoring as compared to those with bisphosphonates. Bisphosphonates may be better suited in preventing VCFs postoperatively in addition to minimizing postoperative disability and pain. https://thejns.org/doi/abs/10.3171/202L3.FOCUS2175

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalNeurosurgical focus
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • bisphosphonate
  • fracture
  • meta-analysis
  • osteoporosis
  • spinal fusion
  • teriparatide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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