Osseointegration, Advantages & Drawbacks


The word “Osseointegration” is made up of the Greek word “osteon,” meaning bone, and integration, which has to do with how the process of osseointegration goes. It is an alternative method which involves joining a prosthetic limb to an amputee’s body. There are two stages to this surgical procedure.

The first stage involves a titanium implant called a fixture to be inserted into the morrow of the residual limb’s bone. Over time, the fixture will become integrated with the bone. This may take up to half a year, but once the fixture has become part of the bone, an abutment, which is a titanium extension will be attached to that fixture and will then be brought out through the skin and soft tissues.

The prosthesis will then be able to attach right to the abutment. Both stages of this surgery will require a strict rehabilitation program in order to ensure a successful outcome. This whole process will allow for the gradual progression of weight on the prosthesis in order for amputees to get used to the integration of the prosthetic implant itself. This will prevent fracture or other excessive forces on the implant in the case of falling.


Advantages that Come with Osseointegration

Osseointegration means that there is no socket. Therefore, there is also no sweating or other irritations to the skin that might come with the socket. A socket will often also cause pain, pressure, and discomfort as well.  The prosthesis will be easier to slip in and out of, will have great suspension, and will not restrict hip movement while allowing comfortable sitting positioning. Overall, osseointegration will feel a lot more natural and will allow you to increase your muscle mass. However, there are some drawbacks of osseointegration as well.

Throughout the process, there is a long rehabilitation process that may take a little longer than a year and a half to complete. With these procedures, there is also a risk of infection, fractures, loosening of the implant, and poor cosmesis because of the permanent abutment. An amputee will need daily care to take care of the abutment skin area and may not be involved in high-impact activities like running, jumping or swimming.


Deciding Whether or not It’s Right For You

When this technology was originally invented, it was recommended for transfemoral patients who had issues using the conventional socket prosthesis. Whether their complications were due to allergies, obesity, osteoporosis, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, hip contractures or excess weight, this approach may work even better. Upper limb amputees can also benefit from this technology.

If any of these things apply to you or you are just not into the idea of a traditional socket prosthetic, try and ask your doctor if osseointegration is the right procedure for you. Remember to take into account how much time it will take to complete the whole process and what the repercussions are with this surgical procedure. It may or may not work for your situation, so you want to make sure you know what goes into the whole thing in order to better gauge whether or not it is for you.

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