Houston Rockets Center Yao Ming will undergo Bone Graft Procedure

Yao Ming, center for the NBA’s Houston Rockets will under a bone graft procedure in an attempt to fix a navicular stress fracture which refuses to heal. This may keep the 7 foot, 6 inch center out all next season. Yao had originally gotten a hairline fracture of his left foot in a playoff game against the Lakers on May 8th. A repeat x-ray in late June showed not only that the fracture had not healed, but had gotten worse.

Our feet are fairly complex structures, each one having 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 tendons, muscles and ligaments. The Navicular bone is a “boat shaped” bone that is one part of five irregularly shaped tarsal bones which make up the midfoot. The midfoot forms the foot’s arch, and serves as a shock absorber. The bones of the midfoot are connected to the forefoot (toes) and the hind foot (heel and ankle bones) by muscles and the plantar fascia (arch ligament).

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If a fracture does not heal, then a bone grafting procedure may be done to assist in healing. A bone graft is surgery to place new bone into spaces around the broken bone or bony defects. This replacement bone may come from another bone in the patient or from cadaver bone, or even “synthetic” bone. Bone grafting is possible because bone tissue, unlike most other tissues, has the ability to regenerate completely if provided with the space into which to grow. As this native bone grows, it replaces the graft material completely, resulting in a fully integrated region of new bone.

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Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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