Many patients about to undergo spinal surgery were found to have inadequate levels of vitamin D, which could delay their recovery, a new study has found.
A study of 313 patients undergoing spinal fusion surgery found more than half were vitamin D deficient. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reported their findings this week at the North American Spine Society's annual meeting.
Vitamin D aids calcium absorption and is important for new bone growth.
Patients deficient in vitamin D are at risk of developing osteomalacia, which interferes with new bone formation.
While low levels of vitamin D are more common among the elderly, researchers found the patients in this study most likely to have inadequate vitamin D levels were younger.
"More of the older patients in this study had a history of taking supplements, and as a result, they had less risk for vitamin D deficiency than younger patients," said Jacob M. Buchowski, M.D., the lead researcher.
It may be worthwhile to screen future spinal surgery patient, Dr. Buchowski said. "We think those with insufficient levels of vitamin D may benefit from taking 50,000 International Units of the vitamin once a week for eight weeks before surgery as this may help the recovery after spinal fusion surgery."
Rick factors for low vitamin D levels identified in the study were smoking, obesity, disability prior to surgery, and never having taken vitamin D or multivitamin supplements.