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February 5, 1982

Electromagnetic Fields and Bones

JAMA. 1982;247(5):669. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320300073032

The use of pulsing electromagnetic fields (PEMFs) and direct-current stimulation for the treatment of delayed and nonunion of fractures is proving to be a major advance in traumatic orthopedic surgery. In this issue of The Journal (p 623), Bassett and his co-workers summarize their experience in the use of PEMFs for nonunited fractures and failed arthrodeses. The overall success in obtaining firm union is approximately 80%, which compares favorably with the success rate of cortical and cancellous bone grafting procedures.

Other methods using direct-current stimulation to the nonunion site report a comparable success rate. More than a hundred papers have been presented and published on the use of various forms of electrical stimulation in promoting bone growth and fracture healing. Sir Dennis Paterson and his co-workers1 in Australia have developed and are promoting the use of a fully implantable system using a small titanium-covered power source with titanium electrodes.