What to Know About Bone Graft Procedures


Surgeons today can repair or replace many different tissues or organs in a patient’s body, and that ranges from skin to muscle to a kidney to the patient’s very bones. A bone graft delivery device may be used when a hospital’s surgical staff needs to perform bone repair or bone graft surgery, and a hospital may even have a working relationship with bone graft manufacturers. A bone graft delivery device can make bone surgery easier and safer, and these bone graft delivery devices may be used for either autografts or allografts, depending on the patient’s needs or preferences. Often resembling needles, these bone graft delivery devices may be on hand to inject bone tissue safely, and the patient may soon be up and walking. What is there to know about bone surgery in the United States today, and what is the difference between an allograft and an autograft?

Modern Bone Surgery

The American medical industry is a truly vast one, and a major part of it is the medical device industry. Today, the American medical device industry is the world’s largest, and it has a market value close to $140 billion. This industry also employs some 356,000 people with 5,800 companies. All of this certainly includes bone graft delivery devices.

Around 38,600 surgeons work in the United States today, and they often help patients get new bone tissue to repair damage or replace missing bone matter. Why do patients need bone grafts like these? The four most typical reasons are: the patient suffered multiple fractures that do not heal properly; fusion to help two bones heal across a damaged or broken joint; bone regeneration after disease or injury; or healing bones after implanting medical devices such as joint replacements. A 16-year study has been done to track bone graft patient statistics, and the data shows that 83% of bone graft patients receive autogenous bone grafts harvested from the patient, and 17% of cases involve artificial bone material. In that same study, it was found that among two million bone graft patients, more and more patients are receiving artificial material for this surgery.

Autografts and Allografts

These are the two major types of bone graft surgery, and a patient may ask for one or the other. That, or the hospital staff may make a recommendation, and there are pros and cons for each surgery type. A patient may carefully weigh the options and then make a decision before surgery.

If a patient gets allograft surgery, then they are receiving bone from another person’s body, most typically a cadaver that, in life, gave permission for this. When a person expires, and if they gave prior consent, the hospital staff may check the bone material for any problems. If the bones are clean, the material may be set aside in a cold storage tissue bank, to be used for allografts for live patients. Most often, allografts are performed for hip, knee, and long bone (arms and legs) surgery. An advantage of allograft surgery is that the bones came from a dead body, and thus the bones have no living cells in them. This greatly reduces the risk of infectious disease spreading, and since such bones lack marrow, there is no need to match blood types.

Meanwhile, the other type of transplant, autografts, involves using live bone tissue from the patient’s own body. In this way, the new bone material is alive, and the blood types will certainly match. Getting this bone material for a graft means harvesting it from non essential sites on the body, where losing bone will not harm the patient’s health. The chin or jaw bone, for example, may be a source of bone material.

Either way, before bone surgery begins, a patient may follow directions from their doctor to get their body ready, and that may include fasting right before surgery so complications can be avoided. In surgery, surgeons will make an incision over the site and implant the bone material, and they may use screws, pins, and plates to help hold the new bone material in place and maintain its shape. The skin is closed again, and if need be, the patient may also get a crutch or splint during recovery. In some cases, not even a splint is needed.

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