Objectives: To investigate the quality of newly formed bone in sheep mandibles submitted to distraction osteogenesis and low-level laser therapy (LLLT), based on hardness and modulus of elasticity values. The ideal moment for laser application (during the latency/activation period vs. during the bone consolidation period) was also evaluated. Computed tomography imaging was used to assess relapse as a result of early device removal.
Study design: Extraoral distraction devices were placed in five sheep so as to achieve 1.5 cm of lengthened bone in 60 days. Distraction devices were removed 50, 40, and 33 days after surgery. Four animals were treated with LLLT, at different times, and one was used as control (no LLLT).
Results: When applied during the bone consolidation period, LLLT caused an increase in hardness and modulus of elasticity values. On the other hand, animals irradiated with LLLT during the latency/activation period presented a delay in bone healing. A period of consolidation of 13 days (early device removal) was associated with relapse.
Conclusions: Nanoindentation tests were able to detect slight abnormalities in bone metabolism and proved to be important tools for the assessment of bone quality following distraction osteogenesis. LLLT provided increased benefits when applied during the bone consolidation period, once it promoted an increase in hardness and modulus of elasticity values. According to our results, the bone consolidation period should be of at least 3 weeks, so as to prevent relapse.