While there are many reasons for bone grafting in medicine and dentistry, the procedure is largely misunderstood because its uses can vary so widely between one practitioner and the next. Regardless of where you heard the term, understanding bone grafting may be helpful to patients, their families and other interested members of the general population.
So What is Bone Grafting, Anyway?
A bone graft is a procedure during which a surgeon transplants existing bone tissue to repair bones that were damaged in a traumatic accident or impacted by problematic joints.
A bone graft is also used to increase the benefits of certain dental procedures, such as implants. Although it often sounds intimidating, bone grafting procedures are actually quite common.
Where Does the Bone Come From?
Depending on the procedure and practitioner, the bone for bone grafting can come from one of several different places. Originally, all bone grafting materials were taken from donors or cadavers, and after all biological materials were removed, the bone was stored in a tissue bank until it had been quarantined for a predetermined amount of time.
While this still occurs today, autografts are much more common; in this type of grafting procedure, the bone is provided by the person receiving the graft. In an autograft, physicians typically take bone from the wrist, pelvic region, hips or ribs. By taking the bone to be grafted from the individual who requires the procedure, the risk of rejection is lowered considerably.
Are There Risks?
Every medical procedure is attached to a set of risks, side effects or problems that may occur after it is complete, and bone grafting is no different. Some of the most common risks for this procedure include infection, pain, swelling and if the grafting material came from an outside source, rejection of the bone material placed within the body.
Is Bone Grafting Worth It?
While some patients have negative outcomes from their bone grafting experiences, it is largely considered a safe, and in many cases, routine procedure. Those suffering from injuries that will not heal, bones that have been compromised due to infection or disease or dental issues that will result in implant may find that bone grafting is an appropriate choice for their unique situation.
As always, it is important to discuss the benefits and risks with both the physician performing the procedure and a trusted family practitioner.