Surgeons involved in skeletal repair, reconstruction, and oncology commonly encounter or create bone defects that are unlikely to heal if treated by fixation alone. Cancellous and cortical autografts have been used for decades to treat skeletal defects, but the amount of autograft is limited, and morbidity related to autograft harvesting can be considerable. Allograft can “extend” autograft, but has limited biological and mechanical properties, carries with it the potential for disease transmission, and has not been accepted for other reasons in some societies. The need for autograft substitutes has led to the development of a wide variety of skeletal substitute materials that are being introduced rapidly into skeletal surgery and are thus likely to be visualized with increasing frequency by radiologists and pathologists. These materials vary with respect to composition, biologic properties, mechanical strength, and radiographic appearance.
Several important terms have been developed...
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