Objective: To describe a model for the investigation of different phases of wound healing that are involved in the process resulting in osseointegration.
Material and methods: The implants used for the study of early healing had a geometry that corresponded to that of a solid screw implant with an SLA surface configuration. A circumferential trough had been prepared within the thread region (intra-osseous portion) that established a geometrically well-defined wound compartment. Twenty Labrador dogs received 160 experimental devices totally to allow the evaluation of healing between 2 h and 12 weeks. Both ground sections and decalcified sections were prepared from different implant sites.
Results: The experimental chamber used appeared to be conducive for the study of early phases of bone formation. The ground sections provided an overview of the various phases of soft and hard tissue formation, while the decalcified, thin sections enabled a more detailed study of events involved in bone tissue modeling and remodeling. The initially empty wound chamber became occupied with a coagulum and a granulation tissue that was replaced by a provisional matrix. The process of bone formation started already during the first week. The newly formed bone present at the lateral border of the cut bony bed appeared to be continuous with the parent bone, but woven bone was also found on the SLA surface at a distance from the parent bone. This primary bone that included trabeculae of woven bone was replaced by parallel-fibered and/or lamellar bone and marrow. Between 1 and 2 weeks, the bone tissue immediately lateral to the pitch region, responsible for primary mechanical stability of the device, became resorbed and replaced with newly formed viable bone. Despite this temporary loss of hard tissue contact, the implants remained clinically stable at all times.
Conclusion: Osseointegration represents a dynamic process both during its establishment and its maintenance. In the establishment phase, there is a delicate interplay between bone resorption in contact regions (between the titanium body and mineralized bone) and bone formation in 'contact- free' areas. During the maintenance phase, osseointegration is secured through continuous remodeling and adaptation to function.