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Osseointegration of Ti6Al4V alloy implants coated with titanium nitride by a new method

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Coating titanium alloy implants with titanium nitride (TiN) by the method of Powder Immersion Reaction Assisted Coating (PIRAC) produces a stable layer on their surface. We have examined the ability of the new TiN coating to undergo osseointegration. We implanted TiN-coated and uncoated Ti6Al4V alloy pins into the femora of six-month-old female Wistar rats.

SEM after two months showed a bone collar around both TiN-coated and uncoated implants. Morphometrical analysis revealed no significant differences between the percentage of the implant-bone contact and the area and volume of the bone around TiN-coated compared with uncoated implants. Electron-probe microanalysis indicated the presence of calcium and phosphorus at the implant-bone interface. Mineralisation around the implants was also confirmed by labelling with oxytetracycline. Strong activity of alkaline phosphatase and weak activity of tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase were shown histochemically. Very few macrophages were detected by the non-specific esterase reaction at the site of implantation.

Our findings indicate good biocompatibility and bone-bonding properties of the new PIRAC TiN coatings which are comparable to those of uncoated Ti6Al4V alloy implants.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr A. Weiss.

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