What to Know About Bone Grafts

What to Know About Bone Grafts

December 16, 2018

If you may need a bone graft, you may be interested to know that there are multiple different types of bone grafts. Bone grafting can be done with a quick procedure and often offers a short recovery time as well.

Types

Bone grafts are available in a variety of materials and can be made of natural or synthetic materials.

Biological Substitutes

There are two different ways to achieve a natural, or biological, bone graft. Autografts are where surgeons use bone from the patient’s own body in order to do the bone graft. Allografts are also an option. Autografts use the bone of a deceased bone donor.

Synthetic Substitutes

There are also a wide variety of man-made bone substitutes that can be used for bone grafting. Calcium sulfate, also known as gypsum, is inexpensive and mimics the structure of bone. Calcium sulfate is normally used alongside another bone graft substitute since it is prone to reabsorbing too quickly on its own. Tricalcium phosphate ceramics, bioactive glasses, and polymer-based substitutes are also options.

Procedure

The patient will typically be given a general anesthetic when receiving a bone graft procedure. The surgeon will make an incision which will allow him/her to place the bone substitute in the damaged area. Screws, pins, cables, plates, and wires are commonly utilized during bone graft procedures as well. The incision will be stitched closed and the patient will be monitored for a few hours before being released.

Risks

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Cosmetic defects
  • Failure of the graft to accomplish its purpose
  • Nerve injury
  • Decreased mobility
  • Chronic pain

Recovery

Recovery time typically takes anywhere from 2 weeks to over 2 months and is dependent upon a person’s age, physical health, and overall health. In order to ensure a speedy recovery, patients should refrain from drinking and smoking and should try and eat a healthy, nutrient-dense diet. In the case of a patient having a drain in their wound, a doctor will provide them with the necessary care instructions to look after it. A patient will also need to return for follow-up appointments in order to monitor the healing process.

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