FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., March 14 (UPI) -- Surgeons are using new methods to get bone material, and even stem cells, right "off the shelf," a California foot and ankle surgeon says.
Dr. Glenn M. Weinraub -- who led a discussion among surgeons on bone healing at the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons' annual scientific conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. -- says bone grafts are generally used for large open fractures with bone loss, broken bones that have not healed, bone tumors and reconstructive procedures.
"Harvesting a patient's own bone has always been considered the gold standard, but nowadays I think that concept should be thought of as the historical standard," Weinraub, president of ACFAS, says in a statement.
Grafts are helpful for patients who might not heal under normal conditions, such as smokers, diabetics, people who are obese or patients with nutritional deficits.
However, surgeons can now use stem cells, which are self-renewing cells found throughout the body, to assist the bone in healing.
"These cells have the potential to become almost any other cell in the body and can actually form bone," Weinraub says.
Like bone graft material, stem cells can come from the patient or a lab, which harvests the cells from the bones of donors and makes billions of copies, Weinraub says.