Bone grafts are needed for certain orthopedic surgeries performed. For example, any neck or spinal fusion requires bone graft material. Mosaicplasty is another procedure that uses donor bone graft.
Mosaicplasty is a method of treating damage to the cartilage of a joint. Cylindrical-shaped plugs of cartilage and the bone underneath are moved to damaged areas. The plugs are very tiny. When a group of plugs are used, the graft site takes on a mosaic or tile-like appearance.
Graft material can come from the patient. This is called an autologous graft. Or it can be obtained from a donor through a bone bank. Recovery of the donor site is only an issue with autologous donations.
The defect left by removing donor tissue is packed with bone wax during the operation. This helps cut down on the amount of bleeding that occurs after the surgery. MRIs taken later show that the hole fills in with fibrous scar tissue. There is no apparent loss of function at the donor site.
Long-term studies are still needed to see if any degenerative process is started by the donation procedure. MRI signals are not always completely normal after harvesting bone plugs. It's possible that patients may experience problems years later. This remains to be determined.