The long-term success of bone-interfacing implants remains a challenge in compromised patients and in areas of low bone quality. While surface roughness at the micro/nanoscale can promote osteogenesis, macro-scale porosity is important for promoting the mechanical stability of the implant over time.
Currently, machining techniques permit pores to be placed throughout the implant, but the pores are generally uniform in dimension. The advent of laser sintering provides a way to design and manufacture implants with specific porosity and variable dimensions at high resolution.
This approach enables the production of metal implants that mimic complex geometries found in biology. In this study, we used a rabbit femur model to compare the osseointegration of laser-sintered solid and porous implants. Ti–6Al–4V implants were laser sintered in a clinically relevant size and shape.
One set of implants had a novel porosity based on human trabecular bone; both sets had grit-blasted/acid-etched surfaces.
After characterization, implants were inserted transaxially into rabbit femora; mechanical testing, micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) and histomorphometry were conducted
10 weeks post-operatively. There were no differences in pull-out strength or bone-to-implant contact.
However, both micro-CT and histomorphometry showed significantly higher new bone volume for porous compared to solid implants. Bone growth was observed inאם porous implant pores, especially near apical portions of the implant interfacing with cortical bone. These results show that laser-sintered Ti–6Al–4V implants with micro/nanoscale surface roughness and trabecular bone-inspired porosity promote bone growth and may be used as a superior alternative to solid implants for bone-interfacing implants.