Are bone autografts still necessary in 2006 ? A three-year retrospective study of bone grafting

Published online: Dec 27 2006

Adrien Albert, Thibaut Leemrijse, Vincent Druez, Christian Delloye, Olivier Cornu

From the Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, UCL, Brussels, Belgium


Autograft is considered as the gold standard in bone grafting. However, the development of tissue banks has allowed for a wider use of bone allografts, with good results. Demineralised Bone Matrix (DBM) and recombinant human Bone Morphogenetic Proteins (rh-BMP's) were also introduced to replace the time-honoured autograft. Is there currently still a place for bone autograft ? The authors reviewed the orthopaedic surgical activity in their institution during the period 2003-2005, and traced all the surgical procedures in which bone grafting was performed. Tracking forms from the tissue bank were reviewed to assess the surgical indications. Between 2003 and 2005, the use of autografts decreased from 1.3% to 0.9% of all surgical interventions, particularly owing to their decreased use in primary fusions, while the use of allografts increased from 10.7% to 12.7%. Indications for allografts covered all fields of orthopaedic surgery, including non-unions. Processed allografts represented 90% of all grafts used. DBM and rh-BMP were used on an exceptional basis. There is currently a trend for surgeons to use allografts as substitutes for autografts, as processing of the allografts increases their safety while preserving most of their biological and mechanical properties. Autografting is now limited to revision operations after failed fusions, and to combined use at the junction with massive allografts. DBM and rh-BMP are still controversial but they might replace autografts, even in their currently remaining indications, if their cost effectiveness and efficiency are established.