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8th Combined Meeting Of Orthopaedic Research Societies (CORS)


Summary Statement

Repetitive concavities threaded on the surface of bone implants have been already demonstrated to be effective on ectopic bone formation in vivo. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of concavity on the mineralization process in vitro.


The role of implant surface geometry in bone formation has been extensively investigated. Ripamonti and co. investigated the possibility to induce bone formation by threading concavities on the surface of calcium phosphate implants, without the need for exogenous osteogenic soluble factors. The underlying hypothesis was that this geometry, by resembling the hemi-osteon trench observable during osteoclastogenesis, was able to activate the ripple-like cascade of bone tissue induction and morphogenesis. Despite several studies indicating a positive effect of concavities on bone induction, so far no attempts have rationalised this phenomenon by means of in vitro tests. Consequently, this study aimed to evaluate the effect of surface concavities on the mineralization of hydroxyapatite (HA) and beta-tricalciumphosphate (b-TCP) ceramics in vitro. Our hypothesis was that concavities could effectively guide the mineralization process in vitro.

Materials and Methods

Different-size concavities were threaded into the surface of HA and b-TCP semi-sintered disks: 1.8 (large concavity, LC), 0.8 (medium concavity, MC) and 0.4 mm (small concavity, SC). Disks were fully sintered at 1200 or 1100 °C and soaked in simulated body fluid (SBF) up to 28 days. Distinct experiments were carried out in order to assess the role of chemical composition, sintering temperature and concavity size on the extent of mineralization in vitro. The mineralization process was followed by SEM, EDS, XRD and Ca assay tests.

Results and Discussion

Massive mineralization occurred exclusively at the surface of the HA disks treated at 1200 °C. Firstly, aggregates of spherical-like amorphous calcium phosphate nucleated specifically within concavities and not on the planar surface. At a later stage, a flake-like apatitic phase replaced the spherical-like apatite and spread out the concavities until covering the entire disk surface. Instead, a lower extent of mineralization occurred on HA disk treated at 1100 °C, with no formation of flake-like phase. In contrast, no significative mineralization was observed for b-TCP disks, irrespective of sintering temperature. Finally, the extent of mineralization on disks exhibiting SC on the surface was found to be about 120- and 10-fold higher than mineralization disks threaded with LC and MC, respectively.


The main results of this study are: i) the in vitro mineralization process of CaP ceramics with surface concavities starts preferentially within the concavities and not on the planar surface; ii) concavity size is an extremely effective parameter for controlling the extent of mineralization in vitro. Finally, the results reported in this study suggest correlation between the positive effect of concavities on mineralization in vitro and on ectopic bone formation in vivo.