Osseointegration into a novel titanium foam implant in the distal femur of a rabbit.
A novel porous titanium foam implant has recently been developed to enhance biological fixation of orthopaedic implants to bone. The aim of this study was to examine the mechanical and histological characteristics of bone apposition into two different pore sizes of this titanium foam (565 and 464 micron mean void intercept length) and to compare these characteristics to those obtained with a fully porous conventionally sintered titanium bead implant. Cylindrical implants were studied in a rabbit distal femoral intramedullary osseointegration model at time zero and at 3, 6, and 12 weeks. The amount of bone ingrowth, amount of periprosthetic bone, and mineral apposition rate of periprosthetic bone measured did not differ among the three implant designs at 3, 6, or 12 weeks. By 12 weeks, the interface stiffness and maximum load of the beaded implant was significantly greater than either foam implant. No significant difference was found in the interface stiffness or maximum load between the two foam implant designs at 3, 6, or 12 weeks. The lower compressive modulus of the foam compared to the more dense sintered beaded implants likely contributed to the difference in failure mode. However, the foam implants have a similar compressive modulus to other clinically successful coatings, suggesting they are nonetheless clinically adequate. Additional studies are required to confirm this in weight-bearing models. Histological data suggest that these novel titanium foam implants are a promising alternative to current porous coatings and should be further investigated for clinical application in cementless joint replacement.