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Repair of a Critical Size Defect in the Rat Mandible Using Allogenic Type I Collagen

Saadeh, Pierre B. MD*; Khosla, Rohit K. BA*; Mehrara, Babak J. MD; Steinbrech, Douglas S. MD; McCormick, Steven A. MD; DeVore, Dale P. PhD§; Longaker, Michael T. MD

Journal of Craniofacial Surgery: November 2001 - Volume 12 - Issue 6 - p 573-579
Clinical Notes

Mandibular fractures, resulting from either trauma or reconstructive surgery, can be challenging craniofacial problems. The morbidity of failed fracture healing is significant and may require bone grafting. Donor site morbidity and finite amounts of autogenous bone are major drawbacks of autogenous bone grafting. Similarly, the use of allografts and xenografts may be associated with an increased risk of rejection, infection, and nonunion. To circumvent the limitations of bone grafting, research efforts have focused on formulating a suitable bone substitute. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the efficacy of type I collagen implants in repairing critical sized mandibular defects in rats. Twelve male Sprague–Dawley rats (200–300g) were divided equally into control and experimental groups. Full thickness, round, four millimeter in diameter defects were created in the ramus of the right mandible of all rats using an electrical burr at low speed. The defects were irrigated of all bone chips, and either filled with a precisely fitted disk of allogenic collagen type I gel (experimental animals) or left empty (control animals). Animals were killed 6 weeks after surgery and healing of the bone defects was assessed in a blinded fashion using radiologic and histologic analysis. Radiologic analysis of the control group revealed a clear circular right mandibular defect in all animals, whereas the collagen disk implant group revealed an indistinct to nonexistent right mandibular defect in all animals. Densitometric analysis revealed a significant difference between these groups (* P = 0.01). Similarly, gross analysis of control mandibles revealed a 4mm round, soft-tissue filled defect, while implanted defects demonstrated gross bone spanning the defect. Finally, histologic analysis of all control mandibles revealed clearly demarcated bony edges at the defect border with connective tissue spanning the defect. In contrast, histological analysis of all implanted mandibles revealed indistinct bony edges at the defect border with a thin layer of osteoblasts and viable bone spanning the defects. We have demonstrated the ability of type I collagen to promote healing of a membranous bony defect that would not otherwise heal at 6 weeks. The suitability of type I collagen as a carrier matrix provides ample opportunity for tissue-engineered approaches to further facilitate bony defect healing. Promoting bone formation through tissue engineering matrices offers great promise for skeletal healing and reconstruction.

Connecticut, USA

New York, USA

Massachusetts, USA

California, USA

From the *Department of Surgery, University of Connecticut, Farmington, Connecticut; Department of Surgery, New York University, New York, New York; Department of Pathology, New York Eye and Ear Infirmary; §Collagenesis, Inc., Beverly, Massachusetts; and Department of Surgery, Stanford University, Stanford, California.

Supported by NIH Grant RO1DE13028.

Presented at the 67th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeons in Boston, Massachusetts, October 5, 1998.

Address correspondence to Dr Michael T. Longaker, Department of Surgery, Stanford University Medical Center, 269 Campus Drive CCSR Room 1225-S, Stanford, CA 94305-S148; E-mail:

© 2001 Mutaz B. Habal, MD