Tricortical calcaneal bone graft and management of the donor site

Author(s): Feeney S, Rees S, Tagoe M


The clinical outcomes of 19 patients requiring autogenous grafts for foot surgery were followed up until healing at the donor site occurred. In all cases, tricortical bone was extracted from the calcaneus for use at another pedal site. The first cohort of 9 patients had the calcaneal deficit replaced with allogenic cubes. The second cohort received no tissue replacement. Patients were reviewed postoperatively with a questionnaire and clinical examination to evaluate the outcome of the operations. Radiographic outcomes were observed at the donor and recipient sites in both groups until healing was confirmed as bridging trabeculation. Incorporation of the graft at the donor site was also reviewed. Clinical outcomes, namely pain, local sensory function, and return to footwear, were satisfactory in all patients and were not significantly different between groups. One patient from each group sustained a heel fracture. The donated autogenous grafts at the recipient sites were all incorporated uneventfully at 6 months. In the first cohort, allogenic graft incorporation in the calcaneus was complete in only 2 patients at the 12-month stage. The remaining 7 cases showed reduction of the deficit by new bone formation arising from the calcaneus. Donor sites with allogenic bone replacement healed at a median of 18 months (interquartile range, 18-18 months). In the group without replacement, healing occurred at a median of 6 months (interquartile range, 6-12 months), a highly statistically significant difference (P < .001). In the second cohort without allogenic graft replacement, radiographic filling at the donor site was complete within a 12-month period. Tricortical bone can be successfully harvested from the calcaneus, but there may an associated risk of heel fracture. The role of replacement allogenic bone in assisting healing at the donor site is unclear.

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