Biodegradation of titanium implants after long-time insertion used for the treatment of fractured upper and lower jaws through osteosynthesis: element analysis by electron microscopy and EDX or EELS

L Jonas, G Fulda, C Radeck, K O Henkel, G Holzhüter, H J Mathieu
Ultrastructural Pathology 2001, 25 (5): 375-83
Twelve patients underwent an osteosynthesis with titanium to treat upper and lower jaw fractures. Six to 12 months later, the miniplates were removed. Tissue samples were analyzed by light and electron microscopy for detection of a metallosis. The analysis showed new bone formation like callus tissue around the miniplates. In some cases small, rounded deposits and accumulation of colloid-like particles located next to bigger titanium artifacts were detected in the cytoplasm of histiocytes and in the matrix of connective tissue. The titanium was identified by elemental analysis using EDX in SEM as well as by EELS and electron diffraction in TEM. Both kinds of particles contain titanium, but they seem to be different in composition and derivation. The bigger particles seem to consist of metallic titanium and sourced by working on the metallic implants during the implantation itself. On the other hand, the colloidal-like, small, rounded particles in tissue macrophages and outside the cells in the matrix of connective tissue are presumably of other origin; for example, they could be derived from biodegradation and chemical conversion of the metallic implants. The titanium miniplates were examined before and after implantation by using ESCA technique and revealed metallic titanium and different compositions with other elements. The amount of titanium load of the tissue was very low in most cases and presumably not of biomedical relevance.

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