Allograft vs. Autograft: Ask Your Surgeon

Quite a few orthopedic surgeries require some type of transplant to help close a gap to replace destroyed bone or tissue. These transplants most commonly come from either the patient's own body (autograft) or a cadaver (allograft). Some synthetic tissue substitutes or tissue structures made from animal collagen are also available. There is at least one alternative using amniotic tissue from living donors as well.

Because orthopedic procedures are common in the U.S., so are tissue and bone transplants. Some estimates put the number at more than one million each year.

If you need surgery, you can ask your orthopedic surgeon if he or she will need to insert new tissue into the area you're having fixed. Your doctor can explain the risks and benefits associated with each type of transplant:


  • No rejection issues, since they come from the patient's own body

  • Two surgical procedures instead of one, since the site where the tissue or bone is harvested from becomes a second injury

  • Possible weakness or problems from the harvest site

  • Extra recovery after surgery in caring for two surgical sites


  • Only one surgery site from which to recover

  • Possible rejection issues, since the tissue is from another person's body

  • Very small risk of disease transfer (Ask your surgeon to about the sterilization and disease screening procedures of the tissue you're receiving)

Synthetic, Animal-derived, and Live Human Amniotic-derived Structures

  • Ask your doctor if you are a candidate for any of these

Tissue transplants normally assimilate into the body and cannot be precisely removed after time has passed, as opposed to a piece of medical hardware.