What is Bone Cement?

Instructor: Amanda Okuley

Amanda is a Registered Nurse with a passion for knowledge and wellness.

What is bone cement? How is it used in a medical setting? If you are curious about the answers to these questions, look no further. In this lesson we will explore what bone cement is and how it used to make lives easier.

Bone Cement

Jacob is a 73 year old man who has lived an active life up until a recent hip injury. He has just learned that he will need a hip replacement and that it will involve something called 'bone cement'. Is this the same as the cement in the sidewalk and buildings?

Let's take a look at some of the details that Jacob might like to know before he goes under the knife - or cement.

Hip replacements require bone cement to keep the prosthesis in place
hip xray

The true name for bone cement is actually polymethyl methacrylate, abbreviated as PMMA. PMMA can be used in construction as well as in laboratories and is also known as plexi glass. In a medical setting, this compound is used to help anchor prosthetic bones to remaining bones in the body.

How Bone Cement Works

When a patient requires a bone prosthesis, the bone must be adhered inside the body. While screws and metal rods can sometimes be used, bone cement is less invasive and provides less risks of damaging the bone.

Have you ever used epoxy? It's a glue that comes in a duel syringe with two parts, one containing resin and the other hardener. It has to separate because when mixed, it becomes the glue we use for our projects.

Like epoxy, bone cement arrives in the surgeon's facility in two separates parts - a liquid and a powder. Once the liquid and powder are mixed, the compound begins to harden. This means that time is of the essence when working with bone cement. If it hardens too quickly, it will be useless.

Once the two ingredients are mixed, the consistency is similar to pancake mix. As the chemical bonds strengthen between the molecules, the consistency will harden and become more like clay. At this point the surgeon will apply the bone cement to the bone where the prosthetic will be anchored.

The bone cement is sculpted into the appropriate area and then the prosthetic is placed into the clay-like mound of bone cement. Over time, the bone cement will harden around the prosthetic, keeping it securely in place.


Bone cement is commonly used in knee, hip, shoulder, and elbow replacement surgery. In each of these, an artificial joint is attached to a bone using bone cement.

Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty also use bone cement, but not to anchor a joint. In these procedures, bone cement is actually injected into vertebra that are fractured. The bone cement helps reduce stress on the other vertebra that is inevitable when the others are damaged.

Bone cement is also used to stabilize fractured vertebra in the spine

Important Considerations

While bone cement is considered safe, there are still some important considerations when exploring the option of using this compound. First of all, it is not commonly used in children. Their bones are still growing, and bone cement would inhibit bone growth.

In children and adolescents, the bones are open and soft because the bone plates have not fused and hardened. Adding a hard compound (like bone cement) to the bones can cause complications with the bone and bone plates.

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