Fracture Healing and Bone Remodeling With Human Standard-Sized Magnesium Versus Polylactide-Co-Glycolide Plate and Screw Systems Using a Mini-Swine Craniomaxillofacial Osteotomy Fixation Model

J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2018 Oct;76(10):2138-2150. doi: 10.1016/j.joms.2018.03.039. Epub 2018 Mar 31.


Purpose: This study compared the degradation profile, safety, and efficacy of bioresorbable magnesium alloy and polylactide-co-glycolide (PLGA) polymer osteosynthesis systems for the treatment of fractures in a load-sharing maxillofacial environment using a new mini-swine fracture fixation model.

Materials and methods: Two types of clinically relevant situations were evaluated in 5 Yucatan miniature pigs. Defined porcine midface osteotomies of the supraorbital rim and zygoma were created and fixed with either a coated magnesium (test animals) or PLGA plate and screw osteosynthesis system (control animals). After surgery, the mini-pigs were able to recover for either 1 or 9 months with continuous in vivo post-implantation monitoring. Standardized computed tomography (CT) imaging was taken immediately postoperatively and at termination for all animals. The 9-month cohort also underwent CT at 2, 4, and 6 months after surgery. At necropsy, osteotomy sites and bone-implant units were harvested, and healing was evaluated by micro-CT, histopathology, and histomorphometry.

Results: After clinical and radiologic follow-up examination, all fracture sites healed well for both the magnesium and polymer groups regardless of time point. Complete bone union and gradually disappearing osteotomy lines were observed across all implantation sites, with no major consistency change in periprosthetic soft tissue or in soft tissue calcification. Macroscopic and microscopic examination showed no negative influence of gas formation observed with magnesium during the healing process. Histopathologic analysis showed similar fracture healing outcomes for both plating systems with good biocompatibility as evidenced by a minimal or mild tissue reaction.

Conclusions: This study confirms that WE43 magnesium alloy exhibited excellent fracture healing properties before its full degradation without causing any substantial inflammatory reactions in a long-term porcine model. Compared with PLGA implants, magnesium represents a promising new biomaterial with reduced implant sizes and improved mechanical properties to support fracture healing in a load-sharing environment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorbable Implants
  • Alloys
  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Bone Plates*
  • Bone Remodeling / physiology*
  • Bone Screws*
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / instrumentation
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / methods*
  • Fracture Healing / physiology*
  • Magnesium
  • Materials Testing
  • Osteotomy / methods*
  • Polylactic Acid-Polyglycolic Acid Copolymer
  • Swine
  • Swine, Miniature
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Zygoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Zygoma / surgery*


  • Alloys
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Polylactic Acid-Polyglycolic Acid Copolymer
  • Magnesium