Electrical Stimulation and Bone Healing: A Review of Current Technology and Clinical Applications

Jawad M. Khalifeh, Zohny Zohny, Matthew MacEwan, Manu Stephen, William Johnston, Paul Gamble, Youchun Zeng, Ying Yan, Wilson Z. Ray

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Pseudarthrosis is an exceedingly common, costly, and morbid complication in the treatment of long bone fractures and after spinal fusion surgery. Electrical bone growth stimulation (EBGS) presents a unique approach to accelerate healing and promote fusion success rates. Over the past three decades, increased experience and widespread use of EBGS devices has led to significant improvements in stimulation paradigms and clinical outcomes. In this paper, we comprehensively review the literature and examine the history, scientific evidence, available technology, and clinical applications for EBGS. We summarize indications, limitations, and provide an overview of cost-effectiveness and future directions of EBGS technology. Various models of electrical stimulation have been proposed and marketed as adjuncts for spinal fusions and long bone fractures. Clinical studies show variable safety and efficacy of EBGS under different conditions and clinical scenarios. While the results of clinical trials do not support indiscriminate EBGS utilization for any bone injury, the evidence does suggest that EBGS is desirable and cost efficient for certain orthopedic indications, especially when used in combination with standard, first-line treatments. This review should serve as a reference to inform practicing clinicians of available treatment options, facilitate evidence-based decision making, and provide a platform for further research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8272331
Pages (from-to)217-232
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Reviews in Biomedical Engineering
StatePublished - Jan 29 2018


  • Bioelectric phenomena
  • biomedical electronics
  • biophysics
  • implants
  • product development

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