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Biomaterials. 2002 Feb;23(3):725-33.

The ultrastructure of the plasma-sprayed hydroxyapatite-bone interface predisposing to bone bonding.

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Department of Materials Science & Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139, USA.


The deposition of biological apatite and subsequent formation of bone on hydroxyapatite implants depends on the partial dissolution of the implant surface and the reprecipitation of carbonated apatite from the biological milieu. Previous investigations in vitro have shown that the degree of dissolution and reprecipitation decreases as the coating crystallinity increases. These findings prompted the current study of the effects of coating crystallinity on the mechanism of bone bonding. The process of mineralization of bone associated with a hydroxyapatite coating was compared to the normal process of ossification. Plasma-sprayed hydroxyapatite (PSHA) coated titanium alloy (6% Al-4% V) rods as received and annealed for 0.7 h at 600 degrees C in air to increase the coating crystallinity were implanted in the proximal and distal femora and proximal tibiae of adult mongrel dogs for 3 h, 3 and 10 days. Bony sites containing the implant were prepared for ultramicrotomy and transmission electron microscopy using an anhydrous embedding procedure: fixation in ethylene glycol and embedment in Spurr's resin. The results demonstrated the precipitation of biological apatite crystallites on non-annealed PSHA coatings in vivo within 3 h of implantation. After 3 and 10 days there were differences in the ultrastructure of the mineral phase on the surfaces of non-annealed and annealed surfaces. Observations showed that there was little difference in the mechanism of mineralization of bone associated with HA-coated prostheses and the normal process of ossification.

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