What is a Bone Graft?

Bone Graft Procedure

A bone graft is a term used to describe a procedure that plays an important role in the repair of some fractures. When someone suffers a bone fracture, it can range in severity from relatively minor to potentially devastating. Fortunately, there is a graft procedure available to assist in the healing process of even the most severe fractures. With the help of this graft, some people might be able to regain the complete function of an injured limb. Because of this, it is important for everyone to understand the basics of this surgical procedure.

How Does a Bone Graft Work?

The goal of graft is to take the bone from one part of the body and move it to the fracture site. In this procedure, the graft is used to replace bone that might be missing from the fracture location. In general, bones have the ability to regenerate. This means that even in the most severe fractures, the bones can heal properly if correctly lined up. Unfortunately, bones also require a foundation upon which to regenerate. This is the purpose of a bone graft.

In particularly severe bone fractures, it might be impossible for even the most experienced surgeon to line up the bones properly. In other cases, the bones might be too damaged to provide a scaffold for the new bone to form. Without this structure, the fracture will not be able to heal. This is where a graft can bridge the gap, allowing new bone to form.

When is this Graft Used?

A bone graft is used when the fracture will not heal on its own. Some of the situations when a surgeon may recommend a graft include:

Missing Bone: In particularly severe fractures, the bones might be shattered. This makes it hard for a surgeon to line up all of the pieces. Grafts are used to replace this shattered bone, allowing the fracture to heal.

Cases of Malunion: Malunion occurs when fractures do not heal properly. If this happens, a graft can be used to repair bones that haven’t healed correctly. Of note, a trained surgeon might have to re-fracture the bone before applying the graft.

Complex Fracture: In cases of polytrauma, there may be multiple types of fractures that are present. It can be difficult for a surgeon to repair these fractures completely without a graft. Grafts can be used to reinforce complex fractures, helping them to heal more completely.

The Source of the Graft

In most cases, the graft is taken from somewhere else in the patient’s body. This is termed an autologous graft. The reason why autologous grafts are the most common is because it reduces the chances of the patient’s body rejecting the graft.

The surgeon will typically take the graft from the iliac crest. This is located near the pelvis. This bone is thick and can withstand a graft being harvested from this location. If an autologous graft is not available, the surgeon may also elect to go with a synthetic graft.

Over time, the graft will heal and become a part of the new bone. This will lead to improved and more complete recovery. Even following severe fractures, with the help of physical therapy, most patients have a good prognosis following a bone graft procedure.

Sacramento Injury Lawyers

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Injury Lawyer. A bone graft may be required to repair a severe fracture. If someone you know has needed surgery to repair a broken bone, contact me at (800) 404-5400 or (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly legal advice.

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Image Citation: The picture that accompanies this post was located first on Pixabay and has been used here with permission.
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