Allograft versus autograft in forearm aseptic non-union treatment

J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2020 Jul-Aug;34(4 Suppl. 3):207-212. Congress of the Italian Orthopaedic Research Society.


Non-union in forearm fractures is an uncommon challenging clinical condition for orthopaedic surgeons. The complex anatomy and biomechanics of the upper limb make this surgery very demanding. The accurate restoration of the normal anatomy is mandatory to obtain bone healing. Infections and important bone loss further reduce the therapeutic success. The use of bone graft in atrophic non-union may significantly reduce the bone healing time with good clinical results. The aim of the study was to compare fresh-frozen bone (FFB) allograft and autograft in the treatment of forearm aseptic non-union. Inclusion criteria were patients aged between 18 to 75 years old with forearm aseptic shaft non-union treated with plating and bone grafting. The Authors retrospectively evaluated minimum 12-month follow-up with standard X-rays and clinical outcomes. All non-unions were classified according Association for the Study and Application of the Method of Ilizarov (ASAMI) classification for long bones. The sample size was divided in two groups: patients treated with FFB allograft (Allograft Group) and patients treated with iliac crest autograft (Autograft Group). The mean patient age was 33.58±16.72 (18-75) years old in Allograft Group and 33.28±17.24 (18-75) in Autograft Group. The mean follow-up was 62.6 months (±12.3, range 12-160) in Allograft Group and 64.4 (±12.4; 12-160) in Autograft Group. The mean bone union time after the surgery was 101.6 (±14.6; 82 -156) days in Allograft while 117.6 (±14.6; 90 -180) days for autograft. The Radiographic Union Score was 26.8 (±2.2; range 24.3-30) in Allograft while 26.9 (±2.8; range 24.1-30) in Autograft. A correlation between clinical and radiographic outcomes was found (Cohen κ: 0.86±0.11 in Allograft Group; Cohen κ: 0.85±0.10 in Autograft Group, p=0.051). The preoperative surgical planning is essential to apply this technique: the adequate cortical graft length is the key point to gain adequate implant stability. A meticulous surgical technique is mandatory to obtain good clinical and radiological outcomes. The study reported a good reliability of FFB allograft for large non-union bone defects. This technique may represent a feasible alternative to bone transport or amputation, as it allows the return to daily life activities. Further studies are needed to assess the long-term clinical results of this surgical procedure.

Keywords: allograft; autograft; bone healing; bone loss; forearm; non-union; trauma.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Allografts
  • Autografts
  • Bone Transplantation*
  • Forearm*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult