RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES: The authors evaluate whether dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is a reliable method to determine the density of natural coralline hydroxyapatite (HA) blocks used as bone graft substitutes.
METHODS: To evaluate the basic density of HA blocks from the same coral heads with and without titanium meshes, densitometry of 12 HA-500 blocks (genus Goniopora) and 12 HA-200 blocks (genus Porites) was performed. In addition, density measurements of 30 HA blocks (HA-500, n = 15; HA-200, n = 15) from different coral heads were obtained to assess if the originating coral head influences the basic density of blocks within one coral genera. To assess standard deviation serial measurements on eight coralline HA blocks, four with titanium meshes and four without were performed. In the ex vivo study, densitometry of 12 HA blocks (HA-500, n = 4; HA-200, n = 8) used as bone graft substitutes in the mandibles and craniums of adult mongrel dogs was performed. Densities were measured after bone ingrowth for 2 and 4 months, respectively. All measurements were obtained with a Lunar DPX with scan mode “slow 750” in the spine program with the regions-of-interests selected manually. Bone ingrowth was assessed by computerassisted histomorphometry, which was considered the gold standard. Statistical analysis was performed to correlate the densities of plain HA blocks with and without meshes to the specific weights of the blocks.
RESULTS: Significant positive correlation was found between the density of each HA block (both coral species) with and without meshes and the calculated specific weights. Densitometry values showed no significant differences depending on the originating coral heads. Standard deviation ranged between ±3.8% and ±4.1% (HA-500) and between ±3.0% and ±3.8% (HA-200). Hydroxyapatite-500 blocks showed marked increased densities between 15% and 34% after 4 months in three specimens in which bone ingrowth between 16.9% and 21.1% was revealed by histomorphometry; no increase of density was observed in one specimen, which presented only minimal bone ingrowth and signs of infection. Despite bone invasion between 12% and 25.8%, no increased densities were observed for HA-200 implants.
CONCLUSIONS: Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry is an accurate and reproducible modality to assess the densities of plain coralline HA blocks and to monitor bone ingrowth into coralline HA-500 but not into HA-200 block implants.
From the *Department of Radiology, Veterans Affairs Medical Center and University of California San Diego; the †Department of Plastic Surgery, University of California San Diego; and ‡ Interpore International Inc., Irwine, California.
Supported in part by Schrödinger Stipendium J01080-Med.
Reprint requests: Klaus W. Preidler, Dept. of Radiology, Auenbruggerplatz 9, 8036 Graz, Austria.
Received June 11, 1996, and accepted for publication, after revision, July 15, 1996.