Novel adaptive finite element algorithms to predict bone ingrowth in additive manufactured porous implants

Vee San Cheong, Paul Fromme, Aadil Mumith, Melanie J. Coathup, Gordon W. Blunn

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Bone loss caused by stress shielding of metallic implants is a concern, as it can potentially lead to long-term implant failure. Surface coating and reducing structural stiffness of implants are two ways to improve bone ingrowth and osteointegration. Additive manufacturing, through selective laser sintering (SLS) or electron beam melting (EBM) of metallic alloys, can produce porous implants with bone ingrowth regions that enhance osteointegration and improve clinical outcomes. Histology of porous Ti6Al4V plugs of two pore sizes with and without electrochemically deposited hydroxyapatite coating, implanted in ovine condyles, showed that bone formation did not penetrate deep into the porous structure, whilst significantly increased bone growth along coated pore surfaces (osteointegration) was observed. Finite Element simulations, combining new algorithms to model bone ingrowth and the effect of surface modification on osteoconduction, were verified with the histology results. The results showed stress shielding of porous implants made from conventional titanium alloy due to material stiffness and implant geometry, limiting ingrowth and osteointegration. Simulations for reduced implant material stiffness predicted increased bone ingrowth. For low modulus Titanium-tantalum alloy (Ti-70%Ta), reduced stress shielding and enhanced bone ingrowth into the porous implant was found, leading to improved mechanical interlock. Algorithms predicted osteoconductive coating to promote both osteointegration and bone ingrowth into the inner pores when they were coated. These new Finite Element algorithms show that using implant materials with lower elastic modulus, osteoconductive coatings or improved implant design could lead to increased bone remodelling that optimises tissue regeneration, fulfilling the potential of enhanced porosity and complex implant designs made possible by additive layer manufacturing techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-239
JournalJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
Early online date12 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018


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