The additive manufacturing of titanium into porous geometries offers a means to generate low-stiffness endosseous implants with a greater surface area available for osseointegration. In this work, selective laser melting was used to produce gyroid-based scaffolds with a uniform pore size of 300 μm or functionally graded pore size from 600 μm to 300 μm. Initial in vitro assessment with Saos-2 cells showed favourable cell proliferation at pore sizes of 300 and 600 μm. Following implantation into rabbit tibiae, early histological observations at four weeks indicated some residual inflammation alongside neovessel infiltration into the scaffold interior and some early apposition of mineralized bone tissue. At twelve weeks, both scaffolds were filled with a mixture of adipocyte-rich marrow, micro-capillaries, and mineralized bone tissue. X-ray microcomputed tomography showed a higher bone volume fraction (BV/TV) and percentage of bone-implant contact (BIC) in the implants with 300 μm pores than in the functionally graded specimens. In functionally graded specimens, localized BV/TV measurement was observed to be higher in the innermost region containing smaller pores (estimated at 300-400 μm) than in larger pores at the implant exterior. The unit cell topology of the porous implant was also observed to guide the direction of bone ingrowth by conducting along the implant struts. These results suggest that in vivo experimentation is necessary alongside parametric optimization of functionally graded porous implants to predict short-term and long-term bone apposition.
Keywords: Additive manufacturing; Bone ingrowth; Histology; Osseointegration; Porous implants; Selective laser melting.
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