Augments For Bone Grafts

Augment Bone Graft Surgical Technique.JPG

Image Credits: BroadcastMed 

“What is called genius is the abundance of life and health.” - Henry David Thoreau

Why Am I Feeling Pain In My Ankle? 

If you’re prone to ankle pain, rest assured that not all ankle pain is the same! With a myriad of reasons why you can feel ankle pain, and have limited mobility, the best way to find the root cause of your pain is to speak to your orthopaedic surgeon. Statistics have shown that the majority of ankle injuries are due to fractures or to root causes that cause changes in the gait. 

During your consultation, your medical history will be assessed by your doctor. Via screening methods such as a CT scan, an X-ray or an MRI image of your foot and ankles, a thorough analysis of the bone integrity will be assessed. The diagnosis of your ankle pain will then be determined. With a diagnosis, the next step is to actually create a treatment plan. Where possible, you’ll be directed to a minimally invasive procedure. If acute therapies aren’t effective, you will then be directed to a surgical procedure such as fusion surgery. 

How Does Fusion Surgery Heal My Ankle Pain? 

When healing ankle pain, surgical procedures such as arthrodesis are the protocol followed by orthopaedic surgeons. Where fractures have occurred, your surgeon will create a scaffolding that will facilitate the healing of the ankle or the hindfoot. Grafting is added to the fracture to hold the bones in place, and facilitate healing. The bones are secured to the site via a series of wires, screws and plates. With the joint secure, the surgery is completed and the site allowed to heal. 

As the procedure works to relieve your pain, there is a high probability of improvement of mobility. In successful surgeries, the bones will heal together nicely, and the joint integrity and flexibility will be restored. In some instances, the bones will not fuse, and the condition is defined as a nonunion. In this instance, there will have to be some additional interventions taking place to facilitate the healing of the fracture. Historically, surgeons would correct the issue with an autograft - a harvested bone. To do this, a follow-up interventional surgery will be required. Currently, there is a trend towards the use of Augment - a technology that promotes self healing of the body. 

How does the Augment Therapy Work? 

The body naturally heals itself if the right conditions for healing are facilitated. The Augment system will utilize proteins that naturally occur in the body, in order to heal the joint. The beauty about Augment is that it has proven to be just as effective as an autograft, and saves the time and inconvenience that is added to surgical harvesting for an additional interventional procedure. 

The mechanism of action of Augment is twofold - containing both a carrier and a growth factor. The treatment is injected into the site as indicated in the image above. Containing a reagent known as β-TCP, the reagent is capable of healing bones, having been tested at alternative orthopaedic sites, apart from the ankle joints. As a scaffold for healing, bone cells will accumulate on it. Also in the therapy, is a synthesized protein known as (rhPDGF-BB), which facilitates the natural healing of the body. In the treatment, the protein is mixed with a bone-like substance and then the mixture is added to the bone fracture to promote healing. With all the elements necessary for healing in place, the injected protein cells absorb nutrients from the bone site’s blood circulation, regenerate and then restore the joint in time. 

Natural healing therapies, which help the body to autoheal, are ideal paths to investigate if you feel that you would like to try an alternative after your initial fusion surgery. Talk to your orthopaedic surgeon about this minimally invasive procedure. 


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