Debra Wood, RN
During a bone graft, a donated piece of bone is added to the site of a fracture or other bone defect. The new bone can spur bone growth, bridge a gap in a bone, provide support, and aid in healing. The new bone may come from another part of your body (autograft) or from another person (allograft). Rarely, synthetic grafts, which are not bone, are also used.
A bone graft may be done to:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications, such as:
Your doctor will likely do the following:
Leading up to your procedure:
Depending on the procedure, you may receive:
The method of treatment depends on the type and location of the bone injury or defect and the type of graft you will be receiving.
Most bone graft procedures use your own bone. The bone is often taken from the iliac crest. This is the bone at your hip, about where you would wear a belt. An incision is made over the part of the bone that will be removed. A special bone chisel will remove the piece of bone. This incision is then closed.
An incision will be made in the skin covering the area in need of repair. Any scar or dead tissue will be removed from the area. Your bone will then be reconstructed with the graft. Plates and screws may be used during the procedure to immobilize the bone. A cast or brace may be needed after the procedure.
An x-ray may be taken to make sure the bone is in the correct position.
The length of your surgery will depend on the repair needed.
Anesthesia prevents pain during the procedure. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medication.
Your stay in the hospital will depend on the extent of surgery and your progress.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
Care depends on the procedure and location of the bone graft:
Call your doctor if any of the following occur:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
The Canadian Orthopaedic Association
When it Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Bone and tissue transplantation. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at:
http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00115. Updated January 2009. Accessed June 26, 2015.
Bone grafting. The Cleveland Clinic website. Available at
http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/orthopaedics-rheumatology/treatments-procedures/bone-grafting. Updated 2015. Accessed June 26, 2015.
Bone grafts in spine surgery. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at:
http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00600. Updated July 2010. Accessed June 26, 2015.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Donald Buck, MD
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