A cost-effective method for femoral head allograft procurement for spinal arthrodesis: an alternative to commercially available allograft

Desmond A Brown, Grant W Mallory, Dominique M Higgins, Mohammed Abdulaziz, Paul M Huddleston, Ahmad Nassr, Jeremy L Fogelson, Michelle J Clarke
Spine 2014 July 1, 39 (15): E902-6

STUDY DESIGN: A cost-effective procurement process for harvesting, storing, and using femoral head allografts is described. A brief review of the literature on the use of these allografts and a discussion of costs are provided.

OBJECTIVE: To describe a cost-effective method for the harvesting, storage, and use of femoral heads from patients undergoing total hip arthroplasty at our institution as a source of allograft bone.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Spine fusion surgery uses a large proportion of commercially available bone grafts and bone substitutes. As the number of such surgical procedures performed in the United States continues to rise, these materials are at a historically high level of demand, which is projected to continue. Iliac crest bone autograft has historically been the standard of care, although this may be losing favor due to potential donor site morbidity. Although many substitutes are effective in promoting arthrodesis, their use is limited because of cost.

METHODS: Femoral heads are harvested under sterile conditions during total hip arthroplasty. The patient is tested per Food and Drug Administration regulations, and the tissue sample is cultured. The tissue is frozen and quarantined for a 6-month minimum pending repeat testing of donors and subsequently released for use. The relative cost-effectiveness of this tissue as a source of allograft bone is discussed.

RESULTS: The average femoral head allograft is 54 to 56 mm in diameter and yields 50 cm of bone graft, with an average cost of US $435 for processing of the tissue resulting in a cost of US $8.70 per cm of allograft produced. Average production costs are significantly lower than those for other commonly available commercial bone grafts and substitutes.

CONCLUSION: Femoral head allograft is a cost-effective alternative to commercially available allografts and bone substitutes. The method of procurement, storage, and use described could be adopted by other institutions in an effort to mitigate cost and increase supply.


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