Iliac Crest Bone Graft versus Local Autograft or Allograft for Lumbar Spinal Fusion: A Systematic Review

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Study Design

Systematic review.


To compare the effectiveness and safety between iliac crest bone graft (ICBG) and local autologous bone and allograft in the lumbar spine.


A systematic search of multiple major medical reference databases identified studies evaluating spinal fusion in patients with degenerative joint disease using ICBG, local autograft, or allograft in the thoracolumbar spine.


Six comparative studies met our inclusion criteria. A “low” strength of the overall body of evidence suggested no difference in fusion percentages in the lumbar spine between local autograft and ICBG. We found no difference in fusion percentages based on low evidence comparing allograft with ICBG autograft. There were no differences in pain or functional results comparing local autograft or allograft with ICBG autograft. Donor site pain and hematoma/seroma occurred more frequently in ICBG autograft group for lumbar fusion procedures. There was low evidence around the estimate of patients with donor site pain following ICBG harvesting, ranging from 16.7 to 20%. With respect to revision, low evidence demonstrated no difference between allograft and ICBG autograft. There was no evidence comparing patients receiving allograft with local autograft for fusion, pain, functional, and safety outcomes.


In the lumbar spine, ICBG, local autograft, and allograft have similar effectiveness in terms of fusion rates, pain scores, and functional outcomes. However, ICBG is associated with an increased risk for donor site-related complications. Significant limitations exist in the available literature when comparing ICBG, local autograft, and allograft for lumbar fusion, and thus ICBG versus other fusion methods necessitates further investigation.

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