OBJECTIVE: To determine the ability of three implants to enhance the healing of osteochondral defects: (1) a biphasic construct composed of calcium phosphate (CaP) and chitosan/cellulosic polymer, (2) a titanium-polyurethane implant, and (3) an osteochondral autograft.
STUDY DESIGN: Experimental study.
ANIMALS: Ten adult female sheep.
METHODS: In five sheep, an 8-mm diameter osteochondral defect was created on the medial femoral condyle of a stifle and filled with a synthetic titanium-polyurethane implant. In five sheep, a similar defect was filled with an osteochondral autograft, and the donor site was filled with a biphasic construct combining CaP granules and a chitosan/cellulosic polymer. Sheep were monitored daily for lameness. Stifle radiographs and MRI were evaluated at 20 weeks, prior to animals being humanely killed. Surgical sites were evaluated with histology, microcomputed tomography, and scanning electron microscopy.
RESULTS: Clinical outcomes were satisfactory regardless of the tested biomaterials. All implants appeared in place on imaging studies. Osteointegration of prosthetic implants varied between sites, with limited ingrowth of new bone into the titanium structure. Autografts and biphasic constructs were consistently well integrated in subchondral bone. All autografts except one contained a cartilage surface, and all biphasic constructs except one partially restored hyaline cartilage surface.
CONCLUSION: Biphasic constructs supported hyaline cartilage and subchondral bone regeneration, although restoration of the articular cartilage was incomplete.
CLINICAL IMPACT: Biphasic constructs may provide an alternative treatment for osteochondral defects, offering a less invasive approach compared with autologous grafts and eliminating the requirement for a prosthetic implant.