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British Orthopaedic Research Society (BORS)



A modified anodisation technique where a titanium surface releases bactericidal concentrations of silver was developed and called Agluna. Our hypothesis was that silver incorporation was bactericidal and had no effects on the viability of fibroblasts and osteoblasts, would have no negative effect on interfacial shear strength and bone contact in an in vivo trans-cortical implant ovine model.


In vitro: Titanium alloy discs were either polished (Ti), anodised (Ano), anodised or Agluna treated (Ag) or anodised and Agluna treated followed by a conditioning step (Ag C). Conditioning was achieved by incubating discs in culture fluid for 48 hrs. The bactericidal effect of these discs was tested by measuring the zone of inhibition of different bacteria grown on agar. Live/dead staining was carried out and silver levels measured using atomic emission spectroscopy. 8 implants were inserted into each sheep (60 in total (n=5)). Grit blasted Titanium alloy (Gb) and Agluna treated grit blasted titanium alloy (Ag) at a silver concentration of 4-6 micrograms/cm2 were compared at 6 weeks. Gb implants, Ag (at 4-6micrograms/cm2), high dose Agluna implants with silver concentrations at 15-20micrograms/cm2 (HdAg) and a grit blasted anodised titanium alloy (Ano) were compared at 12 weeks. Pullout strength and bone-implant contact was quantified.


On Ti, Ano and Ag C surfaces the number of live fibroblasts was significantly greater than on Ag (non-conditioned) surfaces. Data from pull out tests at 6 weeks showed a lower but significant interfacial shear strength in the Ag group (310.4N) when compared with the Gb group (561.2N) (p=0.01). At 12 weeks, there were no significant differences between each of the 4 treatment groups. Histological analysis showed no significant differences in bone-implant contact between groups at 6 and 12 weeks.


The initial non-conditioned Agluna surface is bactericidal and cytotoxic but on conditioning, osteoblasts and fibroblasts attached and remained viable. The condition Agluna surface remains bactericidal. Silver incorporation at a concentration up to 20 micrograms/cm2 has no adverse toxic effect on osteointegration and the interfacial shear strength of implants. This coating has been used clinically in situations where the infection rate is high.