Bone growth and bone development in the presence of implants or after induced leg-lengthening studied using the Oxford Scanning Proton Microprobe
To respond to varying environmental demands the bone tissue in the body is under continual reconstruction throughout life. It is known that metallic elements are important for maintaining normal bone structure, but their roles are not well understood. More information about the effects of metal excess or deficiency is needed to help in the development of metallic bone implants and to improve the treatment of bone fractures and defects. The Oxford Scanning Proton Microprobe (SPM) is being applied in two studies involving metal ions in bone: (1) bone regrowth and bonding to titanium bone implants may be influenced by diffusion of Ti ions into the bone. We are using microPIXE to determine the metal ion content of bone developing in contact with implants of pure Nb, Ti and Ti alloys. (2) Bone lengthening as a surgical procedure is induced by fracturing the bone and allowing it to heal with a small gap between the fractured ends created by the use of external fixators. The gap can be slowly increased during the healing process to stimulate the production of new bone. The enzymes and other constituents of the developing bone need certain metals for their function. Using experimental animals we have studied the concentrations of the metals and whether a deficiency of trace metals limits the optimum rate of bone lengthening.