DefinitionA bone graft is surgery to place new bone or bone substitutes into spaces around a broken bone or bone defects.Alternative NamesAutograft; AllograftDescriptionA bone graft can be taken from the patients own healthy bone (this is called an autograft) or from frozen, donated bone (allograft). In some cases, a man-made (synthetic) bone substitute is used.A surgeon makes a cut over the bone defect. The bone graft is shaped and inserted into and around the area. The bone graftcan beheld in place with pins, plates, or screws. Stitches are used to close the wound. A splint or cast is usually used to prevent injury or movement while healing.Why the Procedure Is PerformedBone grafts are used to:Fuse joints to prevent movementRepair broken bones (fractures) that have bone lossRepair injured bone that has not healedRisksThe risks for any anesthesia include:Reactions to medicationsProblems breathingThe risks for this surgery include:BleedingInfectionPain at the place on the body where the bone was removedAfter the ProcedureRecovery time depends on the injury or defect being treated and the size of the bone graft. Your recovery may take 2 weeks to 3 months. The bone graft itself will take up to 3 months or longer to heal.You may be told to avoid extreme exercise forup to 6 months.Ask your doctor or nurse what you can and cannot safely do.You will need to keep the bone graft area clean and dry.Your doctor or nurse will give you instructions about showering.advertisementDo not smoke. Smoking slows down or prevents bone healing. If you smoke, the graft is more likely to fail.Outlook (Prognosis)Most bone grafts help the bone defect to heal with little risk of graft rejection.ReferencesCamillo FX. Arthrodesis of the spine. In: Canale ST, Beaty JH, eds. Campbells Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 36.Brinker MR, O’Connor DP, Almekinders LC, et al. Bone injury. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr, Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez’s Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 5.Review Date:8/11/2012Reviewed By:Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.