Orthopaedic surgery has seen remarkable advancements over the years, and one of the most promising developments is the use of biologics intra-operatively. Biologics, derived from natural sources within the body or external donors, have revolutionized the field by promoting tissue healing, reducing inflammation, and enhancing recovery outcomes. In this blog, we’ll delve into the fascinating world of biologics in orthopaedic surgery and explore the myriad of benefits they offer.
What Are Biologics in Orthopedic Surgery?
Biologics, in the context of orthopaedic surgery, refers to biological materials or substances used during surgery to stimulate and accelerate the body’s natural healing processes. These materials can be autologous (from the patient’s own body), allogenic (from another human donor), or xenogenic (sourced from animals). They include bone grafts, growth factors, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs).
Types of Biologics Used Intra-operatively:
- Autograft: This involves using the patient’s own bone, tissue, or cells from one site in their body (e.g., iliac crest bone graft) to repair or augment another site.
- Allograft: Allografts use tissue or bone from a human donor other than the patient. The tissue is carefully processed, sterilized, and stored to minimize the risk of infection and graft rejection.
- Xenograft: Xenografts involve using biological materials sourced from animals, such as bovine or porcine grafts, to aid in tissue repair.
- Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP): PRP is derived from the patient’s own blood and contains concentrated platelets, growth factors, and cytokines that promote tissue healing and regeneration.
- Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentration (BMAC): Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can be harvested from the patient’s bone marrow and are known for their regenerative potential. They can be used to enhance tissue repair and regeneration.
The Benefits of Using Biologics Intra-operatively
- Enhanced Healing: Biologics stimulate the body’s natural healing mechanisms, promoting the regeneration of damaged tissues. This leads to faster and more robust healing outcomes.
- Reduced Inflammation: Biologics often possess anti-inflammatory properties, which can help manage postoperative swelling and discomfort, ultimately reducing pain.
- Preservation of Anatomical Structure: Biologics encourage tissue regeneration rather than replacement. This preservation of anatomical structure is particularly crucial in joint surgeries, where maintaining joint integrity is vital.
- Accelerated Recovery: Patients receiving biologics may experience faster recovery times, enabling them to return to their normal activities and daily routines sooner.
Applications of Biologics in Orthopaedic Surgery
- Bone Grafts: Biologic bone grafts are used to promote the fusion of bones in spinal fusion surgeries and to repair fractures or bone defects. They enhance bone growth and stability.
- Cartilage Restoration: use of PRP or BMAC during cartilage transplant procedures can improve cartilage growth and restoration, facilitating joint preservation and reducing the progression of osteoarthritis.
- Tendon and Ligament Repair: Biologics are used to enhance the healing of tendons and ligaments, reducing the risk of re-injury and improving overall joint function.
- Soft Tissue Reconstruction: In cases of soft tissue injuries or reconstructions, biologics can facilitate the healing of damaged tissues, ensuring better functionality and aesthetics.
Innovations and Ongoing Research
The use of biologics in orthopaedic surgery continues to evolve with ongoing research and technological advancements. Scientists are exploring new ways to harness the potential of stem cells and growth factors to further improve surgical outcomes. The future may bring even more targeted and personalized approaches to using biologics.
Biologics have ushered in a new era of orthopaedic surgery, offering a range of benefits that can significantly improve patient outcomes. Their ability to enhance healing, reduce inflammation, and accelerate recovery makes them a valuable tool in the orthopaedic surgeon’s toolbox. As research and innovation in this field continue to expand, we can look forward to even more promising developments in the realm of biologics and their applications in orthopaedic surgery. These innovations hold the potential to transform the way we approach and experience orthopaedic procedures, ultimately leading to better quality of life for patients.
Dr. Mark Sando is an internationally recognized orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, arthroscopy and injuries of the shoulder, knee and hip. He earned his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and completed residency at the University of Maryland Medical Center and R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. After residency, Dr. Sando went on to complete subspecialized training in Sports Medicine as a fellow at the prestigious Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles, CA under the direction of Dr. Neal ElAttrache. He has worked with numerous college athletic programs and professional teams including the world champion Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Los Angeles Sparks. Dr. Sando has been with the Orthopaedic Medical Group of Tampa Bay since 2015. Full Bio