The effect of HydroSpacer implant placement on the wear of opposing and adjacent cartilage

Alicia H. A. Damen, Gerke H. Schuiringa, Keita Ito, Corrinus C. van Donkelaar

Published: 2022


A HydroSpacer implant, that is, a swelling hydrogel confined by a spacer fabric, was developed to repair focal cartilage defects and to prevent progression into osteoarthritis. The present study evaluated the effect of implant placement height in an osteochondral (OC) plug on wear of the opposing and adjacent cartilage. Three-dimensional warp-knitted spacer fabrics, polycaprolactone with poly(4-hydroxybutyrate) pile yarns, were filled with a hyaluronic acid methacrylate and chondroitin sulfate methacrylate hydrogel. After polymerization of the hydrogel, these HydroSpacers were implanted in OC defects (ø 6 mm) created in bovine OC plugs (ø 10 mm) and allowed to swell to equilibrium. A custom-made pin-on-plate wear apparatus was used to apply simultaneous compression and sliding against bovine cartilage. Cartilage damage, visualized with Indian ink, was only seen for the group in which the HydroSpacer was placed flush with the surrounding cartilage. A significant increase on average surface roughness of the sliding path compared to the adjacent cartilage confirmed surface damage for this group. When the implants were recessed (with and without extra hydrogel layer on top of the implant), this damage was not observed, but the cartilage surrounding the implants was compressed (without damage) indicating substantial load sharing with the implant. Furthermore, it was shown that all defects treated with a HydroSpacer implant resulted in shear forces comparable to intact cartilage. Clinical significance: The present study suggests that placing a HydroSpacer implant recessed into the surrounding cartilage would decrease wear of the opposing cartilage. Altogether, this study supports the development of textile-constraining hydrogels for cartilage replacement.

Full Access Link: Journal of Orthopaedic Research