In a recent article in the International journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Implants (Int J Oral Maxillofac Implants 2015; 30:450-460), Italian surgeons discussed the utilization of fresh frozen human bone graft (cadaver) vs. using the patients own bone (iliac crest bone graft). Not having to harvest bone from a patient can be very attractive. The surgery can be preformed in an office OR vs. a hospital, the surgery is typically faster, and there is no need for a second surgical site.
However, the question is if it is as good or better than using your own bone. One of the big questions concerning using cadaver bone is how long does it take to become part of the patients bone. For this study they waited an average of 6 months before placing implants. They noticed in some of their patients that the bone was not incorporated into the patient’s native bone. This may be why some surgeons wait as long as 12 months. With iliac crest bone grafting the block grafts are typically ready for implants in 4 months.
Utilizing iliac crest bone grafts from the patient has the greatest potential for healing and forming bone because it is from the patient. The body does not see it as foreign. There is also no risk of transmitting viruses such as hepatitis or HIV.
The conclusion of the study was that the success rate of implants placed in cadaver bone grafts was 90% which is OK. The success rate of implants that most surgeons quote is 95-98% success. However most of these implants are not placed in as difficult cases as those shown in this study. In my practice, the success rate of implants placed in iliac crest bone graft appears to be higher than 90%.
If you are in the situation of needing a large bone graft to place dental implants, don’t be discouraged because implants can greatly improve the quality of your life. You should talk to your implant surgeon and discuss what options that you have and make an informed decision about surgery.