Interconnected porous carbonate apatite (CO3Ap) blocks that emulate cancellous bone have potential as an alternative to autografts. The present study aimed to evaluate the feasibility of fabricating a block via a stepwise compositional transformation to CO3Ap through dissolution-precipitation reactions of an interconnected porous calcium sulfate dihydrate (CSD) block, which was obtained by the setting reaction of calcium sulfate hemihydrate (CSH) granules. Exposure of the CSH granules to water resulted in a setting reaction. However, the gaps between the granules were clogged, preventing the fabrication of interconnected porous structures. Removing the water in the gaps using filter paper was beneficial in avoiding gap clogging and in fabricating interconnected porous CSD blocks. Although the CSD blocks transformed into CaCO3 blocks, which maintained the interconnected porous structure through a dissolution-precipitation reaction in a Na2CO3 solution, their mechanical strength was quite low (diametral tensile strength: DTS = 75 kPa). In contrast, a CaCO3 block with a much greater mechanical strength (DTS = 0.98 MPa) was fabricated when a calcium sulfate anhydrous block made via the heat treatment of the CSD block was used as a precursor. The CaCO3 block transformed into a CO3Ap block (DTS = 2.1 MPa), maintaining the interconnected porous structure through a dissolution-precipitation reaction when immersed in a Na2HPO4 solution. The CO3Ap block had macropores initiated by the gaps between the granules and micropores created by the setting reaction of CSH granules and the dissolution-precipitation reactions to form CO3Ap. The results obtained in the present study demonstrate that this method is useful for fabricating interconnected porous CO3Ap blocks.
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