Porous composites made of poly(L, DL-lactide) (PLA) and ce-tricalcium phosphate (a-TCP) or the glass ceramic, GB14N, respectively, were investigated in a loaded implant model in sheep. Six, 12 and 24 months after implantation histological and biomechanical evaluation were performed and compared to autogenous bone transplants. No significant differences were observed between the composites. After 6 months, the interconnecting pores of the alpha -TCP-composite and the GB14N-composite were filled with newly formed bone (14 +/- 5% or 29 +/- 15% of the implant, respectively) and soft tissue (30 +/- 9% or 21 +/- 12% of the implant, respectively). Only a mild inflammatory response was observed. The reaction was similar after 12 months. However, after 24 months a strong inflammatory reaction was seen. The newly formed bone was partly osteolytic. The adverse reaction occurred simultaneously to a significant reduction of the PLA component. The histological results were reflected by the biomechanical outcomes. Both composites showed compression strengths in the range of the autologous bone graft until 12 months of implantation. After 2 years, however, the strengths were significantly decreased. It is concluded that the new composites cannot yet be used for clinical application. An improvement in biocompatibility might be reached by a better coordination of the degradation times of the polymer and the ceramic component. (C) 2001 John Wiley *** Sons, Inc.
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