Bone substitutes are frequently used in clinical practice but often exhibit limited osteoinductivity. We hypothesized that unfocused shockwaves enhance the osteoinductivity of bone substitutes and improve osteointegration and angiogenesis.
Three different bone substitutes, namely porous tricalcium phosphate, porous hydroxyapatite and porous titanium alloy, were implanted in a critical size (i.e. 6-mm) femoral defect in rats. The femora were treated twice with 1500 shockwaves at 2 and 4 weeks after surgery and compared with non-treated controls. The net volume of de novo bone in the defect was measured by microCT-scanning during 11-weeks follow-up.
Bone ingrowth and angiogenesis in the bone substitutes was examined at 5 and 11 weeks using histology. It was shown that hydroxyapatite and titanium both had an increase of bone ingrowth with more bone in the shockwave group compared to the control group, whereas resorption was seen in tricalcium phosphate bone substitutes over time and this was insensitive to shockwave treatment.
In conclusion, hydroxyapatite and titanium bone substitutes favour from shockwave treatment, whereas tricalcium phosphate does not. This study shows that osteoinduction and osteointegration of bone substitutes can be influenced with unfocused shockwave therapy, but among other factors depend on the type of bone substitute, likely reflecting its mechanical and biological properties.