What To Know About Spinal Bone Grafting Technology

10 Feb 2020

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.

Blood Products

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.

What to Expect from a Bone Grafting Surgery

07 Feb 2020

bone repair

Few industries fail to benefit from new or advancing technology, and orthopedic health is no exception, especially when it comes to bone repair and specifically bone grafting procedures. Although bone grafting is not new, recent technological advancements have impacted the techniques and devices for bone graft surgeries to make it safer and more common. Read on for an overview of bone grafts, how and why they are used, and what to expect if you need to have a bone repair done via bone graft.

What is a Bone Graft?

Most simply stated, bone graft surgery transplants bone tissue from one bone to another. The bone tissue transplanted during a bone grafting can be synthetic, can come from a donor, or can come from the body of the patient receiving the bone graft. This kind of bone repair doesn’t necessarily replace damaged, malformed, or failing bone, but establishes a foundation for the continuing growth of new and healthy bone.

How Are Bone Grafts Used?

Bone grafts are used to repair bones and joints that have been compromised by injuries, fractures, malformation, trauma, or disease. They can also be used to reinforce bone growth in or near implanted parts as are common with knee and hip replacements. The four most common catalysts for bone repair graft procedures are complex fractures that will struggle to heal, fusing of bones across a damaged joint, bone regeneration, and for supporting bone growth after implants.

Different Kinds of Bone Grafts

There are a number of different techniques and materials in a range of different types of bone graft surgeries, but two kinds of bone grafts are the most common: Autograft and Allograft. Both of these terms can refer to any kind of tissue transplant, not exclusively bone tissue transplants.

Autograft

Conversely, autograft refers to procedures which transplant tissue from one part of a patient’s body to another. Autograft procedures are more difficult for the patient but are often the only alternative when tissue with living cells is necessary.

Allograft

Allograft bone repair takes bone tissue from donors – very commonly, deceased organ donors, but in some cases living donors. Allograft tissue generally does not contain any living cells, so it is less effectively used to reinforce bone growth, making it a less viable alternative for some procedures. But it simplifies the grafting procedure for the patient by limiting the surgical sites to one.

The Benefits of Bone Grafting for Bone Repair

Aside from the complete repair of complex fractures, including on bones with multiple fractures, bone grafting reinforces the growth of new living bone, strengthens bones that have been weakened by injuries, trauma, disease, or disorders, and, in the case of autograft procedures, introduces living cells into diseased or traumatized tissue.

The Potential Risks of Bone Grafting for Bone Repair

Bone graft surgeries, of course, carry many of the same risks as other surgeries. In some cases, bone graft surgeries can also produce severe inflammation, more pain than expected, and, very infrequently, nerve injury. Allograft surgeries also carry the risk of rejection, in which the patient’s body rejects the transplanted tissue, though this is less common and can be mitigated with courses of medication.

What to Expect During a Bone Grafting Procedure

With few rare exceptions, general anesthesia is administered. While the procedural steps can vary depending on factors including the nature of the trauma and the location of the surgery, it is most common that a surgical incision is created where the graft will be performed, and the donated bone will be shaped to fit the affected area as seamlessly as possible. The bone will be inserted and fixed in place with screws, pins, or other surgical hardware, and the incision will be closed with sutures. In most cases, the affected area is supported with a splint, a cast, or both.

Bone Grafting Recovery

Recovery time and success depend on a number of variable factors including the size and location of the graft and patient health but can take as long as four months or as few as three weeks. During this time, patients must refrain from much physical activity but will be required to remain diligent with rehabilitative exercise. Cold and heat will be ordered to manage discomfort, and frequent elevation to manage potential inflammation.