What to Know About Bone Grafts

The modern medical industry is a broad and flexible one, and surgeons and doctors can treat nearly any condition or illness in a patient. This even includes the patient’s very bones, and this is known as bone grafting. A patient may need new bone material for a variety of reasons, and bone repair can restore a patient’s mobility and health. This is why a hospital will have a working relationship with bone graft delivery companies, and graft delivery may go hand in hand with a graft delivery system. Such graft delivery systems are more advanced today than ever before, and some models can offer minimally invasive grafting operations for patients. When it comes to using a graft delivery system, what sort of options do the surgeons have? And what is there to know about bone grafts in general?

Healthcare and Bones

Many studies and surveys are conducted every year to track the state of American public health, as well as determine how often patients need various medical procedures done. To begin with, the American medical supply market is the world’s largest, and it employs some 356,000 people across 5,800 companies. All this adds up to a market worth some $140 billion or so, which is 40% of the entire world’s market. The United States exports many medical devices such as graft delivery systems and others around the globe, or $44 billion worth of medical devices in total.

Meanwhile, what about bones in particular? On their own, bones may heal fractures in 10 weeks’ time, but some patients may need a graft delivery system so that healing can be done faster and more effectively. Why might someone need bone grafts at all? The four most typical reasons are: a patient has multiple fractures that aren’t healing properly, fusion is necessary to heal a bone across a damaged joint, bone regeneration is necessary after disease or injury, and healing bones after implanting medical devices. A patient may choose one of two routes: autogenous bone transplants, or allograft bone transplants.

A 16-year study has recently been completed, and it tracked some two million bone graft patients. According to those numbers, 83% of all bone grafts were done with autogenous material harvested from the patient’s own body, and 17% of patients in that study opted for artificial bone graft substitutes. In that same study, it was determined that more and more often, patients are opting for bone graft substitutes rather than traditional grafts, however.

Allografts and Autografts

When a patient is undergoing a bone graft, such as with a graft delivery system, they may choose to have either an autograft or an allograft performed on them. There are some reasons to choose each route. In the case of an autograft, the bone material is coming from the patient’s own body, as mentioned above. This bone material is harvested from non essential bone material, such as from the chin or other regions where some bone loss will not harm the patient’s health afterwards. An advantage to doing this is a guaranteed blood type match, and the body will not reject the material since it is not foreign. This living bone might also produce red blood cells for the patient. The drawback for this method is that it requires extra surgery to obtain that bone material, which presents increased opportunities for medical complications or other issues.

The other main option for a bone graft is an allograft, where the bone material is extracted from a different body. Most often, this bone material comes from a deceased person who had consented to have their bone material used this way. A deceased patient may have their body examined for any infections or other issues, and if their bone material is deemed safe, it will be extracted and put into cold storage until needed. Typically, allograft bone material will be dead; that is, no living marrow, and no red blood cell production. This eliminates the need to match blood types. There is an exception; if another, living patient in the hospital is undergoing a total hip replacement procedure, living bones may be extracted from that person and used for an allograft.

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