Bone remodelling and aposition onto calcium phosphate coated polymer surfaces in the spine: an in vivo animal model


T Steffen, BJC Freeman and M Aebi


Long term, secondary implant fixation of Total Disc Replacements (TDR) can be enhanced by hydroxyapatite or similar osseo-conductive coatings. These coatings are routinely applied to metal substrates. The objective of this in vivo study was to investigate the early stability and subsequent bone response adjacent to an all polymer TDR implant over a period of six months in an animal model. Six skeletally mature male baboons (Papio annubis) were followed for a period of 6 months. Using a transperitoneal exposure, a custom-sized Cadisc L device was implanted into the disc space one level above the lumbo-sacral junction in all subjects. Radiographs of the lumbar spine were acquired prior to surgery, and post-operatively at intervals up to 6 months to assess implant stability. Flourochrome markers (which contain molecules that bind to mineralization fronts) were injected at specified intervals in order to investigate bone remodeling with time. Animals were humanely euthanized six months after index surgery. Test and control specimens were retrieved, fixed and subjected to histological processing to assess the bone-implant-bone interface. Fluorescence microscopy and confocal scanning laser microscopy were utilized with BioQuant image analysis to determine the bone mineral apposition rates and gross morphology. Radiographic evaluation revealed no loss of disc height at the operative level or adjacent levels. No evidence of subsidence or significant migration of the implant up to 6 months. Heterotopic ossification was observed to varying degrees at the operated level. Histology revealed the implant primary fixation features embedded within the adjacent vertebral endplates. Flourochrome distribution revealed active bone remodeling occurring adjacent to the polymeric end-plate with no evidence of adverse biological responses. Mineral apposition rates of between 0.7 and 1.7 microns / day are in keeping with literature values for hydroxyapatite coated implants in cancellous sites of various species. Radiographic assessment demonstrates that the Cadisc L implant remains stable in vivo with no evidence of subsidence or significant migration. Histological analysis suggests the primary fixation features are engaged, and in close apposition with the adjacent vertebral bone. Flourochrome markers provide evidence of a positive bone remodelling response in the presence of the implant.

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