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John Innes and Peter Myint, founders of Veterinary Tissue Bank, explain the processes involved in harvesting and storing bone tissue and its potential application in veterinary orthopaedics
BONE is the second most commonly transplanted tissue after blood in human medicine, far exceeding other transplants such as cornea, skin and heart valves. More than half a million bone grafting procedures are performed annually in the USA and these numbers easily double on a global basis.
In the veterinary field, musculoskeletal tissue transplants are a growing area of interest in veterinary orthopaedics. Allograft bone (from one animal to another within the same species) potentially offers off-the-shelf availability, unlimited quantity and desired shape and size, and avoids harvesting autograft, which is associated with the risk of donor site morbidity and a limited availability of bone, and requires extra time and effort. In human studies, donor site pain is the most frequent complaint following autologous bone harvesting.
Veterinary bone transplantation
Veterinary bone transplantation was described as early as 1938, using bovine bone in intramedullary pegging of a canine femoral fracture. Although exact figures are not available, the use of bone allografts in veterinary orthopaedics is increasingly reported and this trend is set to increase as more and more complex procedures are now carried out by veterinary surgeons. Veterinary Transplant Services and Veterinary Tissue Bank are the two tissue banking organisations providing tissue grafts, including musculoskeletal allografts, to the veterinary community at present.
Approach to bone banking
The aim of tissue banking is to provide readily available tissue grafts of high quality and safety, which are fit for purpose when used clinically. Successful clinical application is a balance between bone biology and biomechanics.
In bone banking, the process demands a sound knowledge of bone graft biology, biomechanics and immunology, as well as of donor selection criteria, preservation methods, sterilisation technology and tissue …