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To fuse the spine, very small pieces of extra bone are needed. Called bone graft, this bone acts as the “cement” that fuses the vertebrae together. Bone graft comes from a bone bank or from your own body. Your surgeon will choose the type of graft that’s best for you.
Bone banks collect, evaluate, and store bone. The bone comes from human donors who have died.
Donors are checked for their cause of death and medical history. Tests are done to check for viruses such as HIV and hepatitis. The bone is also treated before it is used as a graft. The risk of getting a disease from bone graft is very slight.
If bone from your own body is used, a small amount of bone is taken from the surface of the front or back of your pelvic bone.
The bone is removed during the fusion surgery—a separate surgery is not needed. Bone may be taken through the incision made for your fusion, or through a separate incision. The area the bone is taken from can hurt quite a bit until it heals.
Bone from your own body may work better than bone from a bone bank. Your surgeon will decide whether it is a better choice for your fusion.