Introduction: The aim of the study was to evaluate the accuracy of computed tomography (CT) for in vivo follow up after mandibular reconstruction.
Material and methods: Unilateral mandibular defects were surgically created in ten sheep and either reconstructed using blood soaked beta-tricalcium phosphate (beta-TCP) cylinders (group A, n=5) or blood soaked beta-TCP cylinders that were additionally loaded with autologous bone marrow (group B, n=5). The two graft designs resulted in different stages of graft ossification representative of different stages of healing. CT datasets were fused with microradiographs and measurements of ceramic area based on both methods were compared.
Results: Two animals (groups A (n=1) and B (n=1)) presented infection and graft dislocation that was visible on CT and were excluded from statistical evaluation. Group A grafts underwent moderate degradation (53.55%+/-9.7) and incomplete bony incorporation representing an intermediate state of healing while ceramic grafts within group B developed a high grade of osseointegration and degradation (94.2%+/-3.3) consistent with progressive healing. Statistical comparison of measurements based on both methods revealed a significant bias (p<0.05) and a non-significant variance for group A and a significant variance (p<0.05) and non-significant bias for group B.
Conclusion: Our results indicate that conventional CT is not suitable to objectively evaluate ossification and degradation of a beta-TCP graft in vivo and further attempts to improve clinical visualization of beta-TCP need to be undertaken.