Improved methods for acrylic-free implants in nonhuman primates for neuroscience research

J Neurophysiol. 2017 Dec 1;118(6):3252-3270. doi: 10.1152/jn.00191.2017. Epub 2017 Aug 30.


Traditionally, head fixation devices and recording cylinders have been implanted in nonhuman primates (NHP) using dental acrylic despite several shortcomings associated with acrylic. The use of more biocompatible materials such as titanium and PEEK is becoming more prevalent in NHP research. We describe a cost-effective set of procedures that maximizes the integration of headposts and recording cylinders with the animal's tissues while reducing surgery time. Nine rhesus monkeys were implanted with titanium headposts, and one of these was also implanted with a recording chamber. In each case, a three-dimensional printed replica of the skull was created based on computerized tomography scans. The titanium feet of the headposts were shaped, and the skull thickness was measured preoperatively, reducing surgery time by up to 70%. The recording cylinder was manufactured to conform tightly to the skull, which was fastened to the skull with four screws and remained watertight for 8.5 mo. We quantified the amount of regression of the skin edge at the headpost. We found a large degree of variability in the timing and extent of skin regression that could not be explained by any single recorded factor. However, there was not a single case of bone exposure; although skin retracted from the titanium, skin also remained adhered to the skull adjacent to those regions. The headposts remained fully functional and free of complications for the experimental life of each animal, several of which are still participating in experiments more than 4 yr after implant.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Cranial implants are often necessary for performing neurophysiology research with nonhuman primates. We present methods for using three-dimensional printed monkey skulls to form and fabricate acrylic-free implants preoperatively to decrease surgery times and the risk of complications and increase the functional life of the implant. We focused on reducing costs, creating a feasible timeline, and ensuring compatibility with existing laboratory systems. We discuss the importance of using more biocompatible materials and enhancing osseointegration.

Keywords: biocompatibility; implant; monkey; neurophysiology; osseointegration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials* / standards
  • Biomedical Research / instrumentation
  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Female
  • Head*
  • Implants, Experimental* / standards
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Neurophysiology / instrumentation
  • Neurophysiology / methods*
  • Titanium*


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Titanium