It has previously been demonstrated that apatite may be coated on the surface of titanium (Ti) at room temperature when the titanium is blasted with apatite powder. This method is known as the blast coating (BC) method. In this study, the osteoconductivity and tissue response to Ti implants blast-coated with apatite (BC implants) were evaluated using apatite-coated Ti implants produced using the flame spraying (FS) method (FS implants) and pure Ti implants as a control. Initial evaluation using simulated body fluid demonstrated higher osteoconductivity in BC implants than in FS implants. Therefore, specimens were implanted in rat tibias for 1, 3 and 6 weeks. At one week after implantation, BC implants showed much higher bone contact ratio when compared with FS implants; the bone contact ratio of BC implants was 75.7%, while the FS and pure Ti implants had ratios of 30.8% and 5.5%, respectively. The difference in bone contact ratio between BC and FS implants decreased with implantation time and the ratios were equal after 6 weeks. In conclusion, BC implants show higher osteoconductivity than FS implants, and thus BC implants are beneficial for early fixation of implants to bone tissue.
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