BoneKEy Reports | Reviews

Special Review: Accelerating fracture repair in humans: a reading of old experiments and recent clinical trials

Per Aspenberg



Based on their mode of action and preclinical data, one would expect bisphosphonates to improve the healing of fractures in cancellous bone, and bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) to reduce the risk of non-union in severe shaft fractures. Parathyreoid hormone (PTH) can be expected to accelerate fracture healing in general. The clinical data in support of this is meager. Stimulation of cancellous bone healing and strength by bisphosphonates has been inadvertently shown in the context of implant fixation, but not convincingly in fractures per se. The clinical BMP literature is confusing, and the chance of ever demonstrating reduced numbers of non-union are small, due to power issues. Still, acceleration of ‘normal’ healing may be possible, but largely remains to show. For PTH, the two available clinical trials both show accelerated healing, but none of them is flawless, and there is a need for better studies.

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