Michigan Medicine scientists aim to improve bone regeneration surgical technique: 5 things to know

Written by Shayna Korol | February 08, 2019 | Print  |

Ann Arbor-based Michigan Medicine researchers are working to improve the Masquelet orthopedic surgical technique, according to MHealth Lab.

Five things to know:

1. Orthopedic trauma surgeons use the Masquelet technique to mold a cement spacer where the bone used to be in patients with a traumatic injury or congenital skeletal defect. The technique is designed to allow a bioactive membrane to form around the spacer.

2. According to Mark Hake, MD, orthopedic surgeon and assistant orthopedic surgery professor at Michigan Medicine, surgeons leave the spacer in place for approximately six weeks to allow the body to form a tissue layer around the cement. The tissue forms small blood vessels and secretes proteins which promote bone formation.

3. After the six weeks, surgeons remove the spacer and replace it with a bone graft from another part of the patient's body, allowing the graft to consolidate. "For patients that have really terrible injuries, this surgical technique allows us to salvage their limbs and avoid amputation," Dr. Hake told MHealth Lab.

4. Dr. Hake and Andrea Alford, PhD, are researching the basic science underlying the technique and working to improve patient recovery time.

"We're trying to figure out how to get the same results, but only doing a single surgery for patients," Dr. Hake told MHealth Lab. "We want to eliminate the time period where the spacer has to be left in. We're currently performing this surgery on rats, examining the membrane that forms and looking at what genes are expressed to see if we can come up with a single surgery solution."

5. Drs. Hake and Alford aim to engineer a membrane to eliminate the need for the technique's second stage.

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