During a bone graft, a donated piece of bone is added to the site of a fracture or other bone defect. The new bone can spur bone growth, bridge a gap in a bone, provide support, and aid in healing. The new bone may come from another part of your body (autograft) or from another person (allograft). Rarely, synthetic grafts, which are not bone, are also used.
The doctor may recommend a bone graft to:
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a bone graft, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Your doctor will likely do the following:
Leading up to your procedure:
Depending on the procedure, you may receive:
The method of treatment depends on the type and location of the bone injury or defect and the type of graft you will be receiving.
Most bone graft procedures use your own bone. The bone is often taken from the iliac crest. This is the bone at your hip, about where you would wear a belt. An incision is made over the part of the bone that will be removed. A special bone chisel will remove the piece of bone. This incision is then closed.
The doctor will cut through the skin covering the area in need of repair. Any scar or dead tissue will be removed from the area. Your bone will then be reconstructed with the graft. The doctor may need to immobilize the bone. Plates and screws may be used during the procedure to immobilize the bone. A cast or brace may be needed after the procedure.
An x-ray may be taken to make sure the bone is in the correct position.
The length of your surgery will depend on the repair needed.
Anesthesia prevents pain during the procedure. Pain medicine will relieve discomfort during your recovery.
Your stay in the hospital will depend on the extent of surgery and your progress.
Care depends on the procedure and location of the bone graft:
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
The Cleveland Clinic
University of Maryland Spine Center
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Bone grafting. The Cleveland Clinic website. Available at http://my.clevelan.... Accessed September 8, 2005.
Canale ST. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 10th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby, Inc.; 2003.
A patient's guide to understanding bone graft. University of Maryland Spine Center website. Available at: http://www.umm.edu.... Accessed September 8, 2005.
Last reviewed December 2011 by John C. Keel, MD
Last Updated: 12/21/2011
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