Evaluation of the 96/4 PLDLLA polymer resorbable lumbar interbody cage in a long term animal model

Eur Spine J. 2006 Oct;15(10):1545-53. doi: 10.1007/s00586-006-0145-5. Epub 2006 May 31.


Arthrodesis using interbody cages has demonstrated high fusion rates. However, permanent cages are exposed to stress-shielding, corrosion, and may require explanation when necessary. Polylactic acid (PLA) bioresorbable cages are developed for avoiding these problems, but significant tissue reaction has been reported with 70/30 PLDLLA in some preclinical animal studies. The objective was to evaluate 96/4 PLDLLA cages in a sheep model over 3 years. Sixteen sheeps underwent one level anterior lumbar interbody fusion using 96/4 PLDLLA cages, filled and surrounded with cancellous bone graft from the iliac crest. Six groups of three animals were killed after 3, 6, 9, 12, 24, and 36 months. Harvested lumbar spine had radiographic, MRI, and CT evaluation and histological analysis. Histological results: cage swelling and slight signs of fragmentation associated to fibrocartilaginous tissue apposition at 3 months; bone remodeling around the cage with direct apposition of the mineralization front at 6 months; active cage degradation and complete fusion around the cage at 9 months; cage fragmentation and partial replacement by bone tissue at 12 months; bone bridges in and around the cage at 24 months; full resorption and intervertebral fusion at 36 months. Radiological results: partial arthrodesis at 3 months; definite peripheral arthrodesis at 6 months; similar aspect at 9 months; significant cage resorption at 12 months; definite inner and outer fusion at 24 months; complete cage resorption and calcification at the location of the cage at 36 months confirmed histological observations. Radiographic, CT scan, MRI, and histological data were consistent for showing progressive resorption of 96/4 PLDLLA, interbody fusion, and bone remodeling, with no significant signs of local intolerance reaction. These results are promising and suggest further development of 96/4 PLDLLA cages.

MeSH terms

  • Absorbable Implants*
  • Animals
  • Bone Remodeling
  • Female
  • Internal Fixators*
  • Lactic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Materials Testing
  • Polyesters
  • Polymers / therapeutic use*
  • Sheep
  • Spinal Fusion / instrumentation*
  • Spinal Fusion / methods
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Polyesters
  • Polymers
  • Lactic Acid
  • poly(lactide)