A bone graft is surgery to place new bone or bone substitutes into spaces around a broken bone or bone defects.
A bone graft can be taken from the patient's own healthy bone (this is called an autograft) or from frozen, donated bone (allograft). In some cases, a man-made (synthetic) bone substitute is used.
A surgeon makes a cut over the bone defect. The bone graft is shaped and inserted into and around the area. The bone graft can be held in place with pins, plates, or screws. Stitches are used to close the wound. A splint or cast is usually used to prevent injury or movement while healing.
Bone grafts are used to:
The risks for any anesthesia include:
The risks for this surgery include:
Recovery time depends on the injury or defect being treated and the size of the bone graft. Your recovery may take 2 weeks to 3 months. The bone graft itself will take up to 3 months or longer to heal.
You may be told to avoid extreme exercise for up to 6 months. Ask your doctor or nurse what you can and cannot safely do.
You will need to keep the bone graft area clean and dry.Your doctor or nurse will give you instructions about showering.
Do not smoke. Smoking slows down or prevents bone healing. If you smoke, the graft is more likely to fail.
Most bone grafts help the bone defect to heal with little risk of graft rejection.
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Brinker MR, O’Connor DP, Almekinders LC, et al. Bone injury. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr, Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez’s Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 5.