Tissue Response to Polyglycolide, Polydioxanone, Polylevolactide, and Metallic Pins in Cancellous Bone: An Experimental Study on Rabbits

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The purpose of this study was to investigate, qualitatively and histoquantitatively, the tissue response of rabbit femur cancellous bone to polyglycolide (PGA), polydioxanone (PDS), polylevolactide (PLLA), and stainless steel pins under identical conditions. Eighty knees in 50 rabbits were operated on by inserting bioabsorbable pins (PGA, PDS, or PLLA) together with metallic Kirschner wire in 60, and two metallic Kirschner wires alone in 20 knees, while 20 knees served as intact controls. Follow-up times were 3, 6, 12, 24, and 52 weeks. Cancellous bone tissue response to implants was studied using histological, histomorphometrical, microradiographical, and oxytetracycline fluorescence methods. Residual fragments of PGA and PDS were seen at 24 weeks. Complete degradation of these polymers had taken place before 52 weeks. No signs of degradation of the PLLA pins were observed within the entire follow-up period. The osteoid formation surfaces at tissue implant-interface were statistically larger in all test groups as compared to intact controls. The number of macrophages at tissue implant-interfaces increased in all bioabsorbable implant specimens until 6 weeks, and with PGA until 12 weeks. No differences in the osseous response emerged when comparing groups of bioabsorbable implants with each other or with stainless steel group. Bioabsorbable pins and metallic Kirschner wires evoked an osteoconductive response in the cancellous bone surrounding implant, but the response intensity between implants displayed no differences. This suggests a simple, nonspecific walling-off new-bone front type of response. Consequently, the polymers possessed no specific osteostimulatory or osteoinhibitory properties. Within the follow-up, no significant differences in biocompatibility between the implants appeared, and no frank inflammatory foreign-body reactions occurred. The small-volume pins obviously did not exceed the local tissue tolerance and clearing capacity of the bone.

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