Mechanical analysis of a rodent segmental bone defect model: the effects of internal fixation and implant stiffness on load transfer

S Amin Yavari, J van der Stok, S M Ahmadi, R Wauthle, J Schrooten, H Weinans, A A Zadpoor
Journal of Biomechanics 2014 August 22, 47 (11): 2700-8
Segmental bone defect animal models are often used for evaluating the bone regeneration performance of bone substituting biomaterials. Since bone regeneration is dependent on mechanical loading, it is important to determine mechanical load transfer after stabilization of the defect and to study the effects of biomaterial stiffness on the transmitted load. In this study, we assess the mechanical load transmitted over a 6mm femur defect that is stabilized with an internal PEEK fixation plate. Subsequently, three types of selective laser melted porous titanium implants with different stiffness values were used to graft the defect (five specimens per group). In one additional group, the defect was left empty. Micro strain gauges were used to measure strain values at four different locations of the fixation plate during external loading on the femoral head. The load sharing between the fixation plate and titanium implant was highly variable with standard deviations of measured strain values between 31 and 93% of the mean values. As a consequence, no significant differences were measured between the forces transmitted through the titanium implants with different elastic moduli. Only some non-significant trends were observed in the mean strain values that, consistent with the results of a previous finite element study, implied the force transmitted through the implant increases with the implant stiffness. The applied internal fixation method does not standardize mechanical loading over the defect to enable detecting small differences in bone regeneration performances of bone substituting biomaterials. In conclusion, the fixation method requires further optimization to reduce the effects of the operative procedure and make the mechanical loading more consistent and improve the overall sensitivity of this rat femur defect model.

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