Multi-scale mechanical and morphological characterisation of sintered porous magnesium-based scaffolds for bone regeneration in critical-sized defects

Roxane Bonithon, Alex Kao, Marta Pena Fernandez, Joseph Nicholas Dunlop, Gordon William Blunn, Frank Witte, Gianluca Tozzi

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Magnesium (Mg) and its alloys are very promising degradable, osteoconductive and osteopromotive materials to be used as regenerative treatment for critical-sized bone defects. Under load-bearing conditions, Mg alloys must display sufficient morphological and mechanical resemblance to the native bone they are meant to replace to provide adequate support and enable initial bone bridging. In this study, unique highly open-porous Mg-based scaffolds were mechanically and morphologically characterised at different scales. In situ X-ray computed tomography (XCT) mechanics, digital volume correlation (DVC), electron microscopy and nanoindentation were combined to assess the influence of material properties on the apparent (macro) mechanics of the scaffold. The results showed that Mg exhibited a higher connected structure (38.4mm-3 and 6.2mm-3 for Mg and trabecular bone (Tb), respectively) and smaller spacing (245µm and 629µm for Mg and Tb, respectively) while keeping an overall appropriate porosity of 55% in the range of trabecular bone (30-80%). This fully connected and highly porous structure promoted lower local strain compared to the trabecular bone structure at material level (i.e. -22067 ± 8409µε and -40120 ± 18364µε at 6% compression for Mg and trabecular bone, respectively) and highly ductile mechanical behaviour at apparent level preventing premature scaffold failure. Furthermore, the Mg scaffolds exceeded the physiological strain of bone tissue generated in daily activities such as walking or running (500-2000µε) by one order of magnitude. The yield stress was also found to be close to trabecular bone (2.06MPa and 6.67MPa for Mg and Tb, respectively). Based on this evidence, the study highlights the overall biomechanical suitability of an innovative Mg-based scaffold design to be used as a treatment for bone critical-sized defects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-352
Number of pages15
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Early online date19 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


  • magnesium alloys
  • bone regeneration
  • in situ mechanics
  • X-ray computed tomography (XCT)
  • digital volume correlation (DVC)
  • scanning electron microscopy (SEM)
  • electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD)
  • nanoidenitification


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