Cranial flap fixation in sheep using a resorbable bone adhesive

J Neurosurg. 2020 Feb 7;134(2):621-629. doi: 10.3171/2019.11.JNS192806.


Objective: The authors' goal in this study was to investigate the use of a novel, bioresorbable, osteoconductive, wet-field mineral-organic bone adhesive composed of tetracalcium phosphate and phosphoserine (TTCP-PS) for cranial bone flap fixation and compare it with conventional low-profile titanium plates and self-drilling screws.

Methods: An ovine craniotomy surgical model was used to evaluate the safety and efficacy of TTCP-PS over 2 years. Bilateral cranial defects were created in 41 sheep and were replaced in their original position. The gaps (kerfs) were completely filled with TTCP-PS (T1 group), half-filled with TTCP-PS (T2 group), or left empty and the flaps fixated by plates and screws as a control (C group). At 12 weeks, 1 year, and 2 years following surgery, the extent of bone healing, local tissue effects, and remodeling of the TTCP-PS were analyzed using macroscopic observations and histopathological and histomorphometric analyses. Flap fixation strength was evaluated by biomechanical testing at 12 weeks and 1 year postoperatively.

Results: No adverse local tissue effects were observed in any group. At 12 weeks, the bone flap fixation strengths in test group 1 (1689 ± 574 N) and test group 2 (1611 ± 501 N) were both statistically greater (p = 0.01) than that in the control group (663 ± 385 N). From 12 weeks to 1 year, the bone flap fixation strengths increased significantly (p < 0.05) for all groups. At 1 year, the flap fixation strength in test group 1 (3240 ± 423 N) and test group 2 (3212 ± 662 N) were both statistically greater (p = 0.04 and p = 0.02, respectively) than that in the control group (2418 ± 1463 N); however, there was no statistically significant difference in the strengths when comparing the test groups at both timepoints. Test group 1 had the best overall performance based on histomorphometric evaluation and biomechanical testing. At 2 years postoperatively, the kerfs filled with TTCP-PS had histological evidence of osteoconduction and replacement of TTCP-PS by bone with nearly complete osteointegration.

Conclusions: TTCP-PS was demonstrated to be safe and effective for cranial flap fixation in an ovine model. In this study, the bioresorbable, osteoconductive bone adhesive appeared to have multiple advantages over standard plate-and-screw bone flap fixation, including biomechanical superiority, more complete and faster bony healing across the flap kerfs without fibrosis, and the minimization of bone flap and/or hardware migration and loosening. These properties of TTCP-PS may improve human cranial bone flap fixation and cranioplasty.

Keywords: bioresorbable; bone adhesive; fibrosis; flap fixation; osteoconduction; osteointegration; surgical technique.