Partial bone formation in additive manufactured porous implants reduces predicted stress and danger of fatigue failure

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

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Abstract

New porous implant designs made possible by additive manufacturing allow for increased osseointegration, potentially improving implant performance and longevity for patients that require massive bone implants. The aim of this study was to evaluate how implantation and the strain distribution in the implant affect the pattern of bone ingrowth and how changes in tissue density within the pores alter the stresses in implants. The hypothesis was that porous metal implants are susceptible to fatigue failure, and that this reduces as osteointegration occurs. A phenomenological, finite element analysis (FEA) bone remodelling model was used to predict partial bone formation for two porous (pore sizes of 700 μm and 1500 μm), laser sintered Ti6Al4V implants in an ovine condylar defect model, and was compared and verified against in vivo, histology results. The FEA models predicted partial bone formation within the porous implants, but over-estimated the amount of bone-surface area compared to histology results. The stress and strain in the implant and adjacent tissues were assessed before, during bone remodelling, and at equilibrium. Results showed that partial bone formation improves the stress distribution locally by reducing stress concentrations for both pore sizes, by at least 20%. This improves the long-term fatigue resistance for the larger pore implant, as excessively high stress is reduced to safer levels (86% of fatigue strength) as bone forms. The stress distribution only changed slightly in regions without bone growth. As the extent of bone formation into extensively porous bone implants depends on the level of stress shielding, the design of the implant and stiffness have significant influence on bone integration and need to be considered carefully to ensure the safety of implants with substantial porous regions. To our knowledge this is the first time that the effect of bone formation on stress distribution within a porous implant has been described and characterised.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Early online date23 Sep 2019
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 23 Sep 2019

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