Frequently Asked Questions

As soon as the bone bank has fresh donor bone, I'm going to have an implant of bone put into my ankle. The surgeon has told me there is a very small risk of disease being passed from the donor bone to me. After I left the office, I started wondering just what kind of "small risk" are we talking about here? I'm on-line looking for some answers.

Studies show the risk of disease transmission from donor bone is very low -- currently estimated at one case in a million for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Other diseases that can (but rarely) get transmitted through donor bone include hepatitis B or C. The bone bank puts all donor tissue through careful testing and processing before it can be released for patient use. The surgeon also irrigates (cleans) the donor bone carefully and thoroughly before putting it in the patient. This step is an additional precaution against disease transmission. Not to bring up other potential problems, but your risk of implant failure or infection is much higher than any risk of disease transmission. Graft failure is one possibility -- either the donor bone doesn't take, gets reabsorbed by the body, or fragments into pieces. There is also the possibility of the intended area filling in with fibrous scar tissue instead of bone. Wound and skin infections are also complications the surgeon will watch out for. Once you finish your Internet search and gather all the information available, don't hesitate to make a pre-op appointment with your surgeon to finish asking any questions or raise concerns about this issue. It's better to go into surgery with peace of mind than to worry and wonder about all the "what ifs".

Samuel B. Adams, Jr, MD, et al. Midterm Results of Osteochondral Lesions of the Talar Shoulder Treated with Fresh Osteochondral Allograft Transplantation. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. April 2011. Vol. 93. No. 7. Pp. 648-654.

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