FAQs|Common Myths|Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is an allograft?
A. An allograft is tissue taken from one person for transplantation into another after it has been processed. This can include bone, tendons, ligaments, skin and heart valves. Allografts have been used successfully in various medical procedures for more than 150 years. Approximately 1.75 million allografts are transplanted each year in the United States.

Q. Where does the tissue come from?
A. Donation is always voluntary. Before death, a person may have consented to donate his or her tissue to enhance the quality of life for others. Authorization for donation can also be given by the donor’s family.

After authorized consent is obtained, potential donors are thoroughly screened for risk factors and medical conditions that would rule out donation. This screening includes, but is not limited to, interviews with family members, evaluation of medical and hospital records and a physical assessment of the donor.

Tissue recovery is performed with respect for the donor using precise surgical techniques.

Q. In which types of surgeries can allograft implants be used?
A. Allografts are used in procedures such as:

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) repair
  • Joint reconstruction in the knee and ankle
  • Meniscal replacement
  • Articular cartilage repair
  • Reconstruction due to cancer or trauma
  • Ridge augmentation in dental procedures
  • Shoulder repair
  • Spinal fusion
  • Urological procedures

Q. What are the benefits of allografts?
A. Allografts are a natural alternative to synthetic and metal implants. However, unlike synthetic or metal implants, allografts should incorporate into your body over time.

Another choice surgeons have is an autograft, which takes tissue from one part of your body for transplantation to another part. Using an allograft eliminates the need for a second surgery site—avoiding additional pain, muscle weakness and possible longer hospital stay.

It is important to discuss any questions or concerns with your physician before your surgery.

Q. How safe are allografts?
A. Tissue banks that provide allograft tissue are required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to carefully screen all donors for infectious diseases and medical conditions that would rule out donation. Blood tests, cultures, medical and hospital records, and many other reports are reviewed prior to acceptance of a donor. In addition to the U.S. FDA mandated, stringent donor screening process, most tissue banks perform chemical treatment or sterilization of the allograft. Sterilization inactivates or removes cellular elements from donor tissue such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and spores.

Q. What is a tissue bank?
A. A tissue bank is an organization that recovers human donated tissue after a person has died and authorization has been obtained for the donation. These organizations offer the option of tissue donation to families and continue to support these families following the donation through aftercare programs. Bone banks are more commonly called tissue banks.