Purpose of review: A host of synthetically engineered materials have come to market in the past three decades, changing the way surgical reconstruction is performed. Although tissue engineering holds the promise of true tissue replacement, this technology is years away from true clinical use. In the interim, understanding of the current synthetic bone substitutes will be reviewed to provide the clinician with an updated understanding of the different classes along with advantages, disadvantages and novel applications.
Recent findings: A discussion of currently used bone cements, scaffolds, bone matrices and growth factors will be included. In addition, a sampling of exciting basic science experiments and preliminary treatments for synthetic bone reconstruction is covered.
Summary: Each reconstructive surgeon should have a comprehensive understanding of the current technologies to optimize reconstruction of bony defects. As this field is rapidly changing, new iterations arrive yearly, which possess improved osteoconductive, osteoinductive, osteointegrative and osteogenic properties. A better understanding of these new products and material will allow each reconstructive surgeon the ability to provide patients with the safest and most successful reconstruction.