Bone grafting is a surgical procedure that replaces missing bone in order to repair bone fractures that are extremely complex, pose a significant health risk to the patient, or fail to heal properly.
Bone generally has the ability to regenerate completely but requires a very small fracture space or some sort of scaffold to do so. Bone grafts may be:
- autologous: bone harvested from the patient’s own body, often from the iliac crest
- allograft: cadaveric bone usually obtained from a bone bank
- synthetic: often made of hydroxyapatite or other naturally occurring and biocompatible substances with very similar mechanical properties to real bone.
Most bone grafts are expected to be reabsorbed and replaced as the natural bone heals over a few months’ time. Bone grafting is possible because bone tissue, unlike most other tissues, has the ability to regenerate completely if provided the space in which to grow. As native bone grows, it will generally replace the graft material completely, resulting in a fully integrated region of new bone. This has many indications such as implant dentistry where bone is necessary for the implant to succeed.