In vivo evaluation of a magnesium-based degradable intramedullary nailing system in a sheep model

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Department of Materials Science and Engineering


The biocompatibility and the degradation behavior of the LAE442 magnesium-based intramedullary interlocked nailing system (IM-NS) was assessed in vivo in a comparative study (stainless austenitic steel 1.4441LA) for the first time. IM-NS was implanted into the right tibia (24-week investigation period; nails/screws diameter: 9 mm/3.5 mm, length: 130 mm/15-40 mm) of 10 adult sheep (LAE442, stainless steel, n = 5 each group). Clinical and radiographic examinations, in vivo computed tomography (CT), ex vivo micro-computed tomography (μCT), mechanical and histological examinations and element analyses of alloying elements in inner organs were performed. The mechanical examinations (four-point bending) revealed a significant decrease of LAE442 implant stiffness, force at 0.2% offset yield point and maximum force. Periosteal (new bone formation) and endosteal (bone decline) located bone alterations occurred in both groups (LAE442 alloy more pronounced). Moderate gas formation was observed within the LAE442 alloy group. The CT-measured implant volume decreased slightly (not significant). Histologically a predominantly direct bone-to-implant interface existed within the LAE442 alloy group. Formation of a fibrous tissue capsule around the nail occurred in the steel group. Minor inflammatory infiltration was observed in the LAE442 alloy group. Significantly increased quantities of rare earth elements were detected in the LAE442 alloy group. μCT examination showed the beginning of corrosion in dependence of the surrounding tissue. After 24 weeks the local biocompatibility of LAE442 can be considered as suitable for a degradable implant material. Statement of Significance An application oriented interlocked intramedullary nailing system in a comparative study (degradable magnesium-based LAE442 alloy vs. steel alloy) was examined in a sheep model for the first time. We focused in particular on the examination of implant degradation by means of (μ-)CT, mechanical properties (four-point bending), clinical compatibility, local bone reactions (X-ray and histology) and possible systemic toxicity (histology and element analyses of inner organs). A significant decrease of magnesium (LAE442 alloy) implant stiffness and maximum force occurred. Moderate not clinically relevant gas accumulation was determined. A predominantly direct bone-to-implant contact existed within the magnesium (LAE442 alloy) group compared to an indirect contact in the steel group. Rare earth element accumulation could be observed in inner organs but H&E staining was inconspicuous.

Publication Title

Acta Biomaterialia