Treatment of allograft nonunions with recombinant human bone morphogenetic proteins (rhBMP)

Published online: Dec 27 2004

Christian DELLOYE, Sanjeev J. SURATWALA, Olivier CORNU, Francis Y. LEE

Cliniques Universitaires St-Luc, Brussels, Belgium and College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, NY, U.S.A.


Fractures and nonunions are the main complications associated with bone allografts. Although the osteogenic role of recombinant human bone morphogenetic proteins (rhBMPs) has been demonstrated in experimental models and human tibial nonunions, the results are unknown for allograft nonunions. In this study, the efficacy of rhBMPs was evaluated in nonunions of femoral allografts. The results of six allograft nonunions in five patients who underwent resection of malignant bone tumours and allograft bone transplantation were analysed one to five years following application of rhBMPs at the nonunion site. There were two osteoarticular allografts and three intercalary allografts. Of three intercalary allografts, one demonstrated nonunion at both ends. Four patients received adjuvant chemotherapy and three had additional radiation therapy. There were two allograft fracture nonunions and four nonunions at the allograft-host junction. Two allograft fracture nonunions and one nonunion at the allograft-host junction were treated with 12 mg of rhBMP-2. The remaining three nonunions were treated with 7 mg of rhBMP-7 (Osigraft®). The outcome and radiological evidence of healing were evaluated at a minimal follow- up of twelve months. There was neither healing of allograft fractures nor union of allograft-host junction. There was elongation or enlargement of the callus from the host. One patient continued to develop resorption of the allograft, which led to allograft fracture. Two patients who were treated with rhBMP-7 and corticocancellous allografts developed sterile drainage. There was no tumour recurrence with the use of rhBMPs after a mean follow-up of 39 ± 25 months. rhBMP's alone were not sufficient to achieve healing in allograft nonunions and fractures following wide resection including periosteum and soft tissues.