Although the clinical use of inlay bone grafts is widespread in craniofacial surgery, the dynamics of inlay bone grafting to the craniofacial skeleton have never been well characterized. Previous work demonstrated that volume maintenance of bone grafts in the onlay position is a consequence of their microarchitectural features, rather than their embryological origins. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the properties determining the volume maintenance of bone grafts in the onlay position in the craniofacial skeleton could be extended to bone grafts in the inlay position. It was hypothesized that volume maintenance of an inlay bone graft could be better explained on the basis of the microarchitectural features of the graft (cortical versus cancellous composition), rather than its embryological origin (membranous versus endochondral), and that the primary determinant of bone graft behavior is the interaction between the microarchitectural features of the bone graft and the local mechanical environment in which the bone graft is placed. Cortical and cancellous bone grafts were harvested from the iliac crest (endochondral origin) of 25 New Zealand white rabbits, and cortical bone was harvested from the mandible (membranous origin) of each rabbit. Four 7-mm trephine holes were made in the cranium of each rabbit, posterior to the coronal suture. Each defect was filled with endochondral cortical bone, endochondral cancellous bone, or membranous cortical bone or was left as an ungrafted control specimen. Animals were killed at 3, 8, or 16 weeks. Crania were subjected to micro-computed tomographic and histological assessments. Micro-computed tomographic analysis demonstrated significant increases in actual bone volume from time 0 to the time of death for all types of grafts. Cortical bone demonstrated significant increases in space-occupying volume at all time points. By 16 weeks, no statistically significant difference in either the actual bone volume or the space-occupying volume according to graft type could be detected. There was no resorption of the inlay bone grafts; in fact, all bone types exhibited increased volume. Cancellous bone demonstrated the greatest capacity to increase actual bone volume. All bone graft types seemed to reach a steady-state bone volume, as if controlled by a local regulator. The regulator is likely the local mechanical environment in which the grafts were placed, as corroborated by the findings that the bone grafts seemed to recapitulate the characteristics of the bone in which they were placed, rather than maintaining their native characteristics.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
From the Section of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Michigan.
Received for publication January 10, 2002;
revised November 18, 2002.
Presented at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Plastic Surgery Research Council, in Loma Linda, California, April 4 to 7, 1998, the 67th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, in Boston, Massachusetts, October 3 to 7, 1998, and the 12th Annual Meeting of the International Confederation of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Surgery, in San Francisco, California, June 27 to July 2, 1999.
Steven R. Buchman, M.D.
Section of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
University of Michigan
2130 Taubman Center
1500 East Medical Center Drive
Ann Arbor, Mich. 48109-0340