Structure of the interface between rabbit cortical bone and implants of gold, zirconium and titanium

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The role of surface properties (chemical and structural) for the interaction between biomaterials and tissue is not yet understood. In the present study, implants made of titanium, zirconium (transition metals with surface oxides) and gold (metallic surface) were inserted into the rabbit tibia. Light microscopic (LM) morphometry showed that after 1 and 6 mo the gold implants had less amount of bone within the threads and a lower degree of bone-implant contact than the titanium and zirconium implants, which did not differ from each other. These quantitative differences were supported by LM and ultrastructural observations of the interface. The ultrastructural observations in addition demonstrated that the layer of non-collagenous amorphous material located between the implant and the calcified bone was appreciably thicker around zirconium than around titanium implants. The factors potentially responsible for the observed morphological differences in the bone around the different material surfaces are discussed.