IC-Type Electric stimulation for delayed bone healing: monocentric evaluation over eight years of experience


Electrostimulation; delayed union; osteotomy

Published online: Jan 20 2023


Kristof Kempenaers, Toon Claes, Nathalie Van Beek, Steven Claes

From the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, AZ Herentals Hospital, B-2200 Herentals, Belgium


Electrostimulation is suggested to positively influence bone healing for delayed unions of both fractures and osteotomies. This monocentric series aims to retrospectively assess the outcome of electrostimulation treatment for delayed union after traumatic fractures or knee osteotomy. Patients treated with electrostimulation for delayed union (no bony union on radiographic imaging at 90 days after osteotomy or fracture treatment) over an 8-year period were screened. The delay of treatment, success rate, revision rate and demographic data (age, sex, location of fracture, presence of osteosynthesis materials) were investigated. A questionnaire assessed objective (nicotine abuse, NRS pain assessment, activity levels) and subjective (comfort, usability, cost-effectiveness) aspects. Electrostimulation delivered radiographic healing in 75% of the fracture group and 66% of the osteotomy group. No statistical significant difference (N=136) in success rate was found for age, sex, presence of osteosynthesis material, delay or fracture location. Success rate did differ significantly with pain, activity level and smoking (p<0.05). Reflective questions to patients were answered mostly positively. The use of electrostimulation for the delayed union of fractures and knee osteotomies delivers high healing rates avoiding the burden of surgical reintervention. It is generally well received by the patient. No difference in success rate was found between sex, age or fracture location, nor did the delay of therapy onset or presence of osteosynthesis material seem to affect the success rate. Smoking had a negative influence on the efficacy of bone electrostimulation.