Broken bones can be immensely painful and debilitating.Broken bones account for over 6.8 million medical treatments each year at various hospitals, emergency rooms and doctor’s offices across the United States. Most minor fractures can be treated using casts, braces and traction devices. Occasionally, surgeons also replace the broken or missing bone fragments using bone grafts. Grafts may be derived from the patient’s own body (autografts) or from a donor (allografts).
Although autografts and allografts have been in use for decades, they have several disadvantages. It is often difficult to find a compatible bone fragment. Furthermore, these implants degenerate with time, and most patients require a replacement surgery after 10 or 15 years. This surgery can worsen pain and lead to other complications, especially in the elderly.