According to available statistics, more than 500,000 bone graft procedures are conducted every year in the United States. This shows the popularity of the procedure that is primarily done to strengthen bones, treat bone deformities, or heal fractures. However, at times, a patient may not be conducive to autograft or allograft due to various reasons. In such a case, a bone graft substitute is used.
Thanks to modern science and technology, there are many bone graft substitutes available for surgeons to use. These substitutes can be made from natural or synthetic materials, and include materials like collagen, polymers, calcium sulfate and even ceramic. Some times even demineralized bone matrix is used to aid bone growth. Here the calcium content is removed from the bone and then used.
Another bone graft substitute is BMP, or bone morphogenetic proteins. These proteins spur bone growth, but are expensive. However, the plus point of using BMP is that it aids better bone growth and the patient does not have to undergo the procedure for bone harvesting. However, BMP still be tested, but scientists are confident that soon it will be available for patients requiring bone grafting.
Recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein, known as rhBMP, has already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the US. When rhBMP is used instead of an autograft, a patient can return to normal life within 6 to 24 months after the surgery depending on how fast his or her recovery is.
In addition, tissue engineering has also managed to create bone graft substitute using polymer, which aids bone growth and slowly dissolves in the body leaving behind the newly grown bone.
All these bone graft substitutes are making the recovery time shorter, and are also responsible for reducing the risks involved with bone grafting.
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