Nanotechnology in Spine Surgery: A Current Update and Critical Review of the Literature

World Neurosurg. (2019) 123:142-155

Nanotechnology is a promising field with numerous applications across various branches of medicine. The unique innate physical, chemical, and biological properties of nanoparticles enable them to serve as appropriate agents performing diverse functions at cellular and subcellular levels. Spinal pathologies constitute one major field where its applications are being explored.

METHODS: A critical review of literature was performed to identify the cur- rent role of nanotechnology in spine surgery. A PubMed search was done using the following key words: “nanotechnology in neurosurgery,” “nanotechnology in surgery,” “nanotechnology in spine,” “nanotechnology in spine surgery,” “nanotechnology in disc regeneration,” “nanotechnology in spinal injury,” “nanotechnology in spinal cord regeneration,” “nanotechnology in spine fusion,” “nanotechnology in osteoporosis,” “nanotechnology in spinal drug delivery,” and “nanotechnology in spinal infection.” Initial search revealed 347 articles. Articles were further screened. Duplicate articles, articles on non- nanotechnologic topics, nonspine articles, or articles with details not pertaining to the current field of interest and non-English language studies were excluded.

RESULTS: A total of 76 articles were finally included. Nanotechnologic ad- vancements in spine surgery include applications in spinal fusion, central nervous system drug delivery, neuronal regeneration, disk regeneration, spinal infection prophylaxis, management of osteoporosis, sutureless vascular anas- tomosis, molecular imaging, and theranostic medicine.

CONCLUSIONS: Nanotechnology in spine surgery is still in its early stages. Eventually, we may see the implementation of nanotechnology as an alternative to existing treatment options. Concerns regarding safety of this technology need to be addressed through future research projects. Although promising, the exact role of nanotechnology in spine surgery remains to be seen.