Tibial Bone Grafting for Wrist Reconstruction

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Iliac crest bone graft harvesting is routinely performed for upper extremity orthopedic procedures despite high complication rates associated with sensory nerve injury, hematoma, chronic pain, and fracture.

Description of Technique

Cancellous bone graft is harvested from the proximal tibia using a medial approach, minimizing donor site morbidity.

Patients and Methods

A retrospective review was undertaken of 14 patients who underwent cancellous proximal tibia bone graft harvesting to augment healing of wrist reconstruction, with 2 months minimum follow-up. We report donor limb tourniquet time, time to union, visual analog scale (VAS) pain score, and complications. Patients were also contacted by phone to administer a retrospective questionnaire and record experiences with the harvesting technique.


Average donor site VAS for the immediate postoperative period was 7.4. Average tourniquet time was 28 minutes. Average time to union of the recipient site was 45 days. One patient experienced delayed union after corrective osteotomy, attributed to osteoporosis. Two patients underwent hardware removal from the operative wrist, unrelated to bone graft harvesting. One patient with a history of chronic neuropathy and foot drop developed dysesthesia and allodynia about the ipsilateral ankle, but was asymptomatic at the proximal tibia donor site; ankle symptoms resolved 3 weeks postoperatively. No patient reported any residual donor site difficulties 24.2 months postoperatively.


In consideration of the minimal complication rate, favorable clinical parameters, and excellent patient tolerance, we advocate proximal tibia bone graft harvesting as opposed to iliac crest harvesting for wrist reconstruction when a moderate amount of autogenous cancellous graft is needed.

Level of Evidence


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