Instrumentation failure caused by the loosening of pedicle screws (PSs) in patients with osteoporosis is a serious problem after spinal surgery. The addition of a thin hydroxyapatite (HA) surface coating applied by using a sputtering process was reported recently to be a promising method for providing bone conduction around an implant without a significant risk of coating-layer breakage. In this study, the authors evaluated the biomechanical and histological features of the bone-implant interface (BII) of PSs with a thin HA coating in an in vivo porcine osteoporotic spine model.
Three types of PSs (untreated/standard [STPS], sandblasted [BLPS], and HA-coated [HAPS] PSs) were implanted into the thoracic and lumbar spine (T9–L6) of 8 mature Clawn miniature pigs (6 ovariectomized [osteoporosis group] and 2 sham-operated [control group] pigs). The spines were harvested from the osteoporosis group at 0, 2, 4, 8, 12, or 24 weeks after PS placement and from the control group at 0 or 24 weeks. Their bone mineral density (BMD) was measured by peripheral quantitative CT. Histological evaluation of the BIIs was conducted by performing bone volume/tissue volume and bone surface/implant surface measurements. The strength of the BII was evaluated with extraction torque testing.
The BMD decreased significantly in the osteoporosis group (p < 0.01). HAPSs exhibited the greatest mean extraction peak torque at 8 weeks, and HAPSs and BLPSs exhibited significantly greater mean torque than the STPSs at 12 weeks (p < 0.05). The bone surface/implant surface ratio was significantly higher for HAPSs than for STPSs after 2 weeks (p < 0.05), and bonding between bone and the implant surface was maintained until 24 weeks with no detachment of the coating layer. In contrast, the bone volume/tissue volume ratio was significantly higher for HAPSs than for BLPSs or STPSs only at 4 weeks.
Using PSs with a thin HA coating applied using a sputtering process strengthens bonding at the BII, which might improve early implant fixation after spinal surgery for osteoporosis. However, the absence of increased bone mass around the screw remains a concern; prescribing osteoporosis treatment to improve bone quality might be necessary to prevent fractures around the screws.