Background: Bone healing is a complex process. Whilst the majority of fractures heal with conventional treatment,
open fractures, large bone defects and non unions still provide great challenges to Orthopaedic Surgeons. Whilst
autologous bone graft is seen as the gold standard, the use of growth factors is a growing area of research to find an effective
alternative with lower side effects such as donor site morbidity and the finite amount available.
Objectives: This systematic review aims to summarize the pre clinical in-vivo studies and examine the clinical studies on
the use of growth factors in bone healing.
Data sources: Databases: PubMed, Medline, OVID, and Cochrane library. The following key words and search terms
were used: Growth Factors, Bone Healing, Bone Morphogenic Protein, Transforming Growth Factor Beta, Insulin Like
Growth Factor, Platelet Derived Growth Factor, Fracture.
Methods: All articles were screened based on title with abstracts and full text articles reviewed as appropriate. Reference
lists were reviewed from relevant articles to ensure comprehensive and systematic review.
Results: Three tables of studies were constructed focussing on Bone Morphogenic Proteins, Platelet Rich Plasma and
Growth Factors and Tissue Engineering.
Conclusions: Bone Morphogenic Proteins and Platelet Rich Plasma, which contains multiple growth factors, have been
shown in preclinical and clinical trials to be an effective alternative to autologous bone graft. Bone Morphogenic Proteins
have been shown to be effective in fracture non union, and in open tibial fractures. Platelet Rich Plasma has shown promise
in preclinical trials and some small clinical trials, however numbers are limited. Bone Morphogenic Proteins have been
shown to be superior to Platelet Rich Protein in one trial. Combining these growth factors with tissue engineering techniques
is the focus of ongoing research, and through further clinical trials the most effective techniques for enhancing
bone healing will be revealed.