Facts about an allograft

An allograft is a tissue graft that gets its name from the Greek “allo-,” which means “other.” This means that the bone graft is taken from the same species (another human), but from a different genetic makeup (not taken from the patient who will ultimately receive the graft). The donor and the recipient are two different people, whereas an “autograft” means the bone from another part of the patient’s body is used.

Where does an allograft come from and who needs one?

An allograft can come from bone banks, also called tissue banks, which store donated bone from cadavers. These grafts do not contain living bone cells, which means they are more prone to rejection than an autograft. Ultimately, choosing to have an allograft or an autograft is up to the patient. However, a physician may suggest an allograft for any of the following reasons.

  • If the patient’s health makes the bone harvesting operation too risky
  • If the patient is a smoker
  • If the patient has osteoporosis
  • If the patient is advanced in age

How is an allograft used in spinal fusion?

If you choose to undergo a traditional open spinal fusion for a spine condition like a herniated disc, bulging disc, spondylolisthesis, scoliosis or kyphosis, you will need a bone graft. During fusion surgery, the physician will remove the portion of your spinal anatomy that is the underlying cause of your pain. In the place of the removed tissue, a bone graft will be inserted. The graft is meant to stimulate new bone growth so that two sections of your spine are welded together into one solid segment of bone. Implants are often used to further stabilize the fused portion of the spine.

Alternatives to spinal fusion

An open spinal fusion is a highly invasive surgery that requires hospitalization and a lengthy recovery period. Large incisions and the removal of such large portions of the spinal anatomy can all lead to complications. If you feel that the risks of a traditional open back fusion are not for you, contact Laser Spine Institute today. We can tell you more about our minimally invasive procedures that have helped tens of thousands of people find relief from neck and back pain.