A common discussion among our Facebook fans and members of our Spine-health Forums revolves around which type of bone graft is best for their spine fusion surgery: an autograft or an allograft.

See Bone Graft Options for Spine Fusion

Synthetic materials are FDA-approved for anterior lumbar interbody fusion surgeries.
Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) Surgery

In other words, is it best to use your own bone or cadaver bone for the spine fusion?

See Spinal Fusion

I asked a doctor on our Board to weigh in, and he offered a third choice: Consider using a bone graft substitute instead.*


In his years of experience as a doctor, using a bone graft substitute along with a titanium cage has allowed this surgeon to avoid subjecting his patients to potentially painful bone graft harvests or to other people’s tissues (as in cadaver bone), and this type of graft has become his preference.

See Bone Graft Site Pain and Morbidity After Spinal Fusion

While there are many differing opinions among surgeons about which type of graft to use, he reasons that if the surgery can be done more safely with synthetics while still achieving the surgery's primary goal—a fusion—then neither the patient’s bone nor cadaver bone need be chosen.

See Controversies about Spinal Fusion Surgery: Allografts, Autografts, and Fusion Levels

There is no single perfect bone graft to use for spine fusion surgery - each choice has pros and cons. Patients are well served to educate themselves on their bone graft choices and be part of the process of deciding about which bone graft option will be used in their body. For more discussion on the pros and cons of bone graft options, please see Bone Graft for Spine Fusion.

Also, take a look at the poll results we just published about choosing an implant for fusion surgery and join the discussion here:

We asked our readers to weigh in on their preferences for spine fusion implants, and here's what we learned: https://www.spine-health.com/blog/3-totally-unexpected-results-fusion-poll

Posted by Spine-health on Wednesday, September 2, 2015

*Our blog posts are not reviewed by our Medical Advisory Board like our articles are, and this blog post in particular reflects only one of our Board members' opinions.

Learn more:

Autograft: The Patient's Own Bone

Allograft: Cadaver Bone from a Tissue Bank