Bone Grafting for Scaphoid Nonunions: Is Free Vascularized Bone Grafting Superior for Scaphoid Nonunion?

William R. Aibinder, Eric R. Wagner, Allen T. Bishop, Alexander Y. Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: Nonvascularized bone grafting (NVBG) and vascularized bone grafts (VBGs) have been used to treat scaphoid nonunions. A comparison of a single institution’ s experience using structural iliac crest bone graft (ICBG), 1,2-intercompartmental supraretinacular artery (1,2-ICSRA), and medial femoral condyle (MFC) grafts to treat scaphoid nonunions was undertaken. Methods: Thirty-one patients underwent ICBG, 33 patients underwent 1,2-ICSRA, and 45 patients underwent MFC grafting. Mean time to follow-up was 16 months (range, 2-153). Twenty-three percent used tobacco products. Mean age was 24 years (range, 11-66), with 86% male patients. Outcomes included union rate, time to healing, range of motion, complications, and reoperations. Results: Union rates and mean time to union were 71% and 19 weeks for the ICBG group, 79% and 26 weeks for the 1,2-ICSRA group, and 89% and 16 weeks for the MFC group, respectively. Failure of union was associated with tobacco use but not with age, gender, time from injury to surgery, or type of fixation. There was no significant difference between the groups regarding range of motion or strength. Conclusions: These findings demonstrate the need for careful patient selection. In patients with the most complicated scaphoid nonunions (avascular necrosis, carpal collapse, and previous surgeries), the MFC group had the highest union rate and fastest time to union. Patients with risk factors for failure should be counseled on the outcomes and possible need for salvage fusion surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-222
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


  • avascular necrosis
  • carpal collapse
  • proximal pole
  • scaphoid nonunion
  • vascularized bone graft

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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