What is an Allograft?
What is an Allograft?

It is estimated that each year more than 2.5 million allografts are implanted in the United States. These grafts are utilized in almost all surgical disciplines including orthopedic, neurology, gynecology, cardiac surgery, burn care and many others. Over time physicians have realized the benefits of using allograft tissues over other alternatives such as autografts and synthetics. This realization has tremendously increased the demand for allograft tissues. We have taken some of the most asked questions by patients and answered them for you. We hope the following information is helpful when making a decision about undergoing an allograft procedure.

What is an allograft?

An allograft is tissue (i.e. bone, ligaments, heart valves) recovered from a human donor for transplantation into another person. Allografts have been successfully used in various medical procedures for more than 150 years. Allograft bone is commonly used in orthopedic, spinal and oral surgeries. Burn patients, cardiac patients, urologic patients, and oncology patients have also benefited from allograft transplantation (i.e. skin, tendons, heart valves, veins and corneal (eye) allografts).

Where do allografts come from?

Tissue donation is a gift given to improve quality of life for others. It is strictly voluntary. The donor or their family must consent to the donation. LifeLink Tissues are recovered from a human donor only in hospital operating room settings.

What are the benefits of allografts?

Allografts are a natural alternative to synthetic and metal implants. However, unlike those, allografts incorporate into your body. Allografts are frequently chosen as an alternative to autografts (tissue from your own body) to reduce surgical time, harvest site morbidity, and recovery time.

How safe are allografts?

Every precaution is taken throughout all tissue recovery and processing procedures to ensure the delivery of safe, high quality allografts. Extensive screening and laboratory testing is performed on tissues at the time of recovery and before their release for implantation.

How are allografts used in surgery?

Allografts are used in many surgical procedures including:

  • Cervical, thoracic and lumbar fusion, and other spinal surgeries
  • Hip and knee replacement
  • Anterior and Posterior cruciate ligament (ACL/PCL) reconstruction
  • Rotator cuff (shoulder) repair
  • Orthopedic reconstruction due to cancer or trauma
  • Surgical treatment for incontinence
  • Heart valve replacement
  • Ridge augmentation in dental procedures
  • Skin grafting
How are allografts prepared?

Tissue is recovered only after authorization for donation is obtained and a thorough medical/social history interview is complete. Donor medical records are reviewed to rule out the presence of infections, malignancies, autoimmune and certain neurological disorders and high-risk situations.

Comprehensive serologic testing and numerous microbiologic cultures are performed and evaluated for acceptability. All musculoskeletal tissue is recovered and processed under aseptic conditions from carefully screened donors.

Each allograft is shaped by trained technicians into its final form according to established specifications. As a final safety measure, destructive testing is performed on each batch of aseptically processed tissue to detect the presence of microorganisms, or it is terminally sterilized using gamma radiation. LifeLink processing methods include the revolutionary Allowash ® method. As a result of these efforts, allografts are cleaner, safer and maintain their clinical effectiveness.

After processing, allografts are inspected, packaged, and then preserved by freezing or freeze-drying. A LifeLink Medical Director, a licensed physician with specific qualifications and experience in tissue banking, must determine the donor to be eligible based on a review of the donor’s records before tissue is released for transplant.

Are there risks with allografts?

Allografts offer excellent benefits; however, there is a minimal risk for disease transmission. Allografts have been safely and successfully used for many years. Strict guidelines exist to ensure continued safety. LifeLink Tissue Bank has placed hundreds of thousands of allografts with no report of disease transmission. It is important that you discuss any questions or concerns with your physician before your surgery.

What is Birth Tissue?

Birth Tissue refers to gestational tissues that help nourish your baby while you are pregnant. Birth Tissues consist of the placenta, umbilical cord, and amniotic membranes.

How will my Birth Tissue be used to improve and enhance lives?

After your baby is born, your physician will remove the placenta. With your permission, your birth tissue will be transformed into tissue-based allografts that help patients recover from difficult to heal wounds, diabetic ulcers and other life enhancing medical procedures.

What happens to my Birth Tissue after I donate?

After your delivery, your birth tissues will be respectfully transported to LifeLink Tissue Bank, where they will be tested, treated, and processed under strict guidelines in accordance with accepted medical and ethical standards.

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