Background: A major goal of research in bone transplantation is the ability to avoid creation of secondary bone defects. We aimed to repair an extended mandibular discontinuity defect by growth of a custom bone transplant inside the latissimus dorsi muscle of an adult male patient.
Methods: Three-dimensional computed tomography (CT) scanning and computer-aided design techniques were used to produce an ideal virtual replacement for the mandibular defect. These data were used to create a titanium mesh cage that was filled with bone mineral blocks and infiltrated with 7 mg recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein 7 and 20 mL of the patient's bone marrow. Thus prepared, the transplant was implanted into the latissimus dorsi muscle and 7 weeks later transplanted as a free bone-muscle flap to repair the mandibular defect.
Findings: In-vivo skeletal scintigraphy showed bone remodelling and mineralisation inside the mandibular transplant both before and after transplantation. CT provided radiological evidence of new bone formation. Postoperatively, the patient had an improved degree of mastication and was satisfied with the aesthetic outcome of the procedure.
Interpretation: Heterotopic bone induction to form a mandibular replacement inside the latissimus dorsi muscle in a human being is possible. This technique allows for a lower operative burden compared with conventional techniques by avoiding creation of a secondary bone defect. It also provides a good three-dimensional outcome.