Majority of Spine Surgery Patients Found to be Vitamin D Deficient

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A study presented at the 26th Annual Meeting of the North American Spine Society has found that majority of the patients undergoing spine surgeries are deficient in vitamin D. The study, presented by Jacob M. Buchowski, an associate professor of orthopedic and  neurological surgery at the Barnes Jewish Hospital, has concluded that patients found to have low levels of vitamin D would benefit if treated with supplements prior to surgery.
 
The researchers examined 313 patients prior to undergoing spinal fusion surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The average age of the patients was 55 years and 56 percent of them were women. They found that almost half of the patients had vitamin D deficiency with one fourths of the patients being extremely deficient in it. Vitamin D is necessary for the proper absorption of calcium and the growth of new bone. Patients deficient in it are expected to have slower recovery after undergoing orthopedic surgery because of the slow growth rate of the new bone. The condition is called as osteomalacia. 
 
The researchers were surprised to see that vitamin D deficiency is not limited to the elderly persons. Rather, it was commonly observed in younger patients who had never taken vitamin D supplements. Smoking and obesity are conditions which predispose a person to develop vitamin D deficiency. According to the doctors participating in the study, patients meant to undergo spine surgeries should be routinely screened before surgery for vitamin D deficiency. In case they are found deficient, they should be advised to take 50,000 international units of vitamin D once every week for at least eight weeks prior to the surgery. This may help in faster recovery following the spinal fusion surgery. The Institute of Medicine has recommended a daily dose of 600 international units of vitamin D to maintain normal bone health. The patients, in consultation with their doctors, may opt for any of the various supplements available in the market according to their needs.
 
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Date: 
Tuesday, May 10, 2011