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J Knee Surg. 2007 Jul;20(3):185-94.

Porous tantalum in reconstructive surgery of the knee: a review.

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  • 1Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Ill, USA.


Porous tantalum represents an alternative metal for primary and revision total knee arthroplasty (TKA) with several unique properties. Tantalum is a transition metal, which in its bulk form has shown excellent biocompatibility and is safe to use in vivo as evidenced by its current application in pacemaker electrodes, cranioplasty plates, and as radiopaque markers. Current designs for orthopedic implants maintain a high volumetric porosity (70%-80%), low modulus of elasticity (3 MPa), and high frictional characteristics, making this metal conducive to biologic fixation. The low modulus of elasticity of such components allows for more physiologic load transfer and relative preservation of bone stock. Its more bioactive nature and ingrowth properties have led to its use in primary as well as revision knee components with good early clinical results reported. In revision arthroplasty, it has been used as a structural bone graft substitute. Formation of a bone-like apatite coating in vivo affords strong fibrous ingrowth properties and allows for substantial soft-tissue attachment with the potential for use in cases such as mega-prostheses and patella salvage. Although porous tantalum is in its early stages of evolution, the initial clinical data and basic science studies support its use as an alternative to traditional orthopedic implant materials.

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