Technical tricks when using the reamer irrigator aspirator technique for autologous bone graft harvesting

Andres J Quintero, Ivan S Tarkin, Hans-Christoph Pape
Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma 2010, 24 (1): 42-5
This report describes technical tricks for using the reamer irrigator aspirator to harvest autologous bone graft from the femur. This device is a focus of interest in orthopaedics because it can be used to harvest bone graft from the femoral canal and medial condyle in voluminous quantities. Moreover, according to some authors, the osteogenic potential of this graft is at least as effective as that of autogenous bone obtained from the iliac crest. The reamer irrigator aspirator device has substantially different design characteristics and technicalities compared with those of a standard reamer. First, a guidewire must be redirected into multiple areas, including the center of the distal femur and into both condyles, to harvest ample bone graft. This is accomplished by prebending the guidewire in a stronger fashion than required for regular reaming in the case of femoral nailing procedures. This bend can increase the risk for eccentric reaming as well as lodging of the suctioning device within the femoral canal. Second, the front and lateral drilling surfaces of this device are very sharp and further cleaned and maintained sharp by the irrigation process to permit the surgeon to obtain significant volumes of graft with a single passage of this device. At the same time, however, this sharp front-end cutting design can increase the risk of iatrogenic fracture if reaming is performed without caution. Third, a powerful suctioning device is connected to the reamer such that the blood loss that can occur during continuous reaming, irrigation, and aspiration must be considered with this technique. We hereby discuss these potential dangers and describe the correct use of this device with technical tricks to minimize the risk of unexpected intraoperative events.

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