Porous bioactive glass matrix in reconstruction of articular osteochondral defects.Ann Chir Gynaecol. 1999; 88(3):237-45.AC
BACKGROUND AND AIMS
This study was carried out to investigate the use of porous bioactive glass implants in promotion of articular cartilage and subchondral bone repair in large osteochondral joint defects.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
Two conical osteochondral defects (top diameter 3.0-3.2 mm) were drilled into the patellar grooves of the distal femurs in the rabbit. The defects, extending (approximately 6-7 mm) from the surface of the articular cartilage to the subchondral marrow space, were reconstructed with size-matched porous conical implants made of sintered bioactive glass microspheres (microsphere diameter 250-300 microm, structural implant compression strength 20-25 MPa) using press-fit technique. The implant surface was smoothened to the level of the surrounding articular cartilage. One of the two defects in each femur was left empty to heal naturally and to serve as the control. At 8 weeks, the defect healing was analyzed with use of a semiquantitative histological grading system, histomorphometry of subchondral bone repair, back-scattered electron imaging of scanning electron microscopy (BEI-SEM), and a microindentation test for characterization for the stiffness properties of the cartilage repair tissue.
The porous structure of the bioactive glass implants, extending from the articular defect of the patellar groove into the posterior cortex of the femur, was extensively filled by new bone. Cartilage repair varied from near-complete healing by hyaline cartilage to incomplete healing predominantly by fibrocartilage or fibrous tissue. There were, however, no statistical differences in the histological scores of repair between the glass-filled and control defects, although the sum of the averages of each category was lowest for the bioactive glass filled defects. The indentation stiffness values of all the defects were also significantly lower than that of normal cartilage on the patellar groove.
Porous textures made by sintering bioactive glass microspheres may expand the opportunities in reconstruction of deep osteochondral defects of weight-bearing joints. The implants act mechanically as a supporting scaffold and facilitate the penetration of stromal bone marrow cells and their chondrogenic and osteogenic differentiation. Ionic properties of the bioactive glasses make the substances highly potential even as delivery systems for adjunct growth factor therapy.