Biomechanical and Histological Evaluation of a Calcium Phosphate Cement*

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Abstract

It is often difficult to achieve stable fixation of a comminuted fracture associated with a metaphyseal defect. The injection of a resorbable cement into an osseous defect may help to stabilize the fracture and to maintain osseous integrity as the cement is resorbed and replaced by bone. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the repair of a metaphyseal defect after treatment with an injectable calcium-phosphate cement.The injectable cement undergoes isothermic curing in vivo to form a carbonated apatite (dahllite) with a compressive strength of twenty-five megapascals. Either the cement or allograft bone was placed in proximal tibial metaphyseal and distal femoral metaphyseal defects in seventy-two dogs and was evaluated from twenty-four hours to seventy-eight weeks postoperatively. Histological examination showed that the cement was osteoconductive; nearly the entire surface area was covered with bone two weeks after the injection. The resulting bone-cement composite underwent gradual remodeling over time in a pattern that was qualitatively similar to the remodeling of normal cortical and cancellous bone. Osteoclasts were found to resorb the cement and were usually associated with adjacent new-bone formation. With increasing time in vivo, the cement was penetrated by small blood vessels that became surrounded by circumferential lamellae of bone and that closely resembled evolving haversian systems. This process occurred more rapidly in the cortex than in the medulla.Mechanical testing showed that, by eight weeks, the tibiae that had been treated with cement had reached nearly 100 per cent of the torsional strength of the contralateral, control (intact) tibiae; this finding paralleled the histological observations of bone apposition to the cement and rapid restoration of the cortex. At no time was fibrous tissue present between the cement and the bone, and there was no evidence of acute inflammation. Small particles of cement were present within occasional macrophages during the process of cement resorption, but the macrophages disappeared over time and were not associated with fibrosis or unexpected resorption of bone. Resorption of the cement was incomplete in the medullary area at seventy-eight weeks, but the pattern of cement resorption and bone-remodeling suggested gradual restoration of a physiological proportion of bone and narrow in both the cortical and the medullary region with maintenance of mechanical function.CLINICAL RELEVANCE: The result of the present study suggest that an injectable calcium-phosphate cement that sets in situ may be an attractive, structurally competent augmentation material for the repair of compromised metaphyseal bone. The high compressive strength of this material, as well as its gradual replacement by bone, supports its continued evaluation for use in complex metaphyseal fractures or osseous defects.

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