Many patients who suffer from spinal conditions undergo a surgical procedure known as a spinal fusion that joins vertebrae together in order to provide stabilization and reduce pain. Bone grafts are used in order to help make this process a success. However, the right material must be selected. What are the most common graft delivery materials that are used? Here’s what to know about spinal bone grafting technology.
Autogenous Bone Graft
An autogenous bone graft uses the bone material from the patient. Approximately 83% of 2 million bone graft patients had material harvested and delivered from their own bodies. These grafts are typically taken from the iliac crest or pelvis. This process is favored because there is no risk of potential rejection.
Allograft Bone Graft
Allograft bone grafts are typically harvested from cadavers or deceased donors. This bone material is used in cervical and lumbar interbody spinal fusions to provide excellent overall structural support. This bone grafting technology is most successful for performing short level fusions within the confines of the cervical spine.
Demineralized Bone Matrix
To create a demineralized bone matrix, proteins that help stimulate bone formation are removed from allograft bones. These proteins are then processed and used as an extender to the bone of the patient. It has proven to be highly successful in animal spinal fusion studies but has not been proven as a complete replacement for humans.
Synthetic Graft Extenders
Several other synthetic substances may be used as bone graft extenders, such as calcium phosphates and ceramics. These substances contain similar biomechanical structures and properties to bones from cadavers. Recent research has been using bone marrow aspirate to provide more biological activity. With this process, bone marrow cells are removed by a syringe and soaked into the cadaver bone or synthetic materials.
Platelet gels from the blood of a patient are being used to assist in bone formation and increasing the maturity of a bone spinal infusion. These platelet gels can easily be taken from the patient with little complication. They are best used as bone graft extenders because they don’t have enough osteoinductive proteins to create a full replacement.
Bone Morphogenic Proteins
These proteins help provide powerful stimulants for the growth and formation of bones. They are commonly used as graft replacements. They can be produced and concentrated in the sites of spinal fusions to help bones form without the need to take the bone material from a patient. While there are several types of these bone morphogenic proteins known as BMP-2 and BMP-7 that appear to be the most promising in delivering the desired results. They can help create faster fusions with higher overall success rates and eliminate the potential side effects and complications of bone graft surgery.
While there are many types of bone grafting technology being used to treat spinal conditions, there is numerous research being done to improve the devices for graft delivery. Researchers are looking at ways to eliminate the need for potential spinal surgeries in the future and much progress is being made. This provides hope to the many patients suffering from spinal conditions that they can live a long and healthy pain-free life as bone graft companies advance their technologies.