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Current and Emerging Basic Science Concepts in Bone Biology: Implications in Craniofacial Surgery

Oppenheimer, Adam J. MD*; Mesa, John MD*; Buchman, Steven R. MD

Journal of Craniofacial Surgery: January 2012 - Volume 23 - Issue 1 - p 30–36
doi: 10.1097/SCS.0b013e318240c6d9
Original Articles

Ongoing research in bone biology has brought cutting-edge technologies into everyday use in craniofacial surgery. Nonetheless, when osseous defects of the craniomaxillofacial skeleton are encountered, autogenous bone grafting remains the criterion standard for reconstruction. Accordingly, the core principles of bone graft physiology continue to be of paramount importance. Bone grafts, however, are not a panacea; donor site morbidity and operative risk are among the limitations of autologous bone graft harvest. Bone graft survival is impaired when irradiation, contamination, and impaired vascularity are encountered. Although the dura can induce calvarial ossification in children younger than 2 years, the repair of critical-size defects in the pediatric population may be hindered by inadequate bone graft donor volume. The novel and emerging field of bone tissue engineering holds great promise as a limitless source of autogenous bone. Three core constituents of bone tissue engineering have been established: scaffolds, signals, and cells. Blood supply is the sine qua non of these components, which are used both individually and concertedly in regenerative craniofacial surgery. The discerning craniofacial surgeon must determine the proper use for these bone graft alternatives, while understanding their concomitant risks. This article presents a review of contemporary and emerging concepts in bone biology and their implications in craniofacial surgery. Current practices, areas of controversy, and near-term future applications are emphasized.

From the *Division of Plastic Surgery and †Craniofacial Anomalies Program and Pediatric Plastic Surgery, Division of Plastic Surgery, University of Michigan Hospitals, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Received April 18, 2011.

Accepted for publication July 8, 2011.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Steven R. Buchman, MD, University of Michigan Hospitals, 2130 Taubman Center, 1500 E Medical Center Dr, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0340; E-mail:

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2012 Mutaz B. Habal, MD