Research into the formation, destruction, and adaptation of bone around implants would benefit from a sensitive, nondestructive, noninvasive, and quantitative technique to assess the bone-implant interface. It is hypothesized that osseointegration can be quantified by sensing the mechanical impedance (or micromobility) of the implant when it is subjected to minute vibratory forces superimposed upon a quasi-static preload. To test this hypothesis, a total of 24 identical threaded, titanium root-form implants (10 x 3.75 mm, Osteo-Implant, New Castle, PA) were placed in the mandibles of 4 Walker hounds and allowed to heal submerged for 3 months. The implants were exposed and characterized for osseointegration using clinical observations, quantitative radiography, and a custom-designed impedance instrument. Subsequently, arbitrarily selected implants were ligated to induce bone loss and examined monthly over a 6-month study period. Following the terminal examination and euthanasia, quantitative histologic measurements were made of bone adjacent to the implant, including estimates of both crestal bone height and the percent bone (bone fraction). Linearized dynamic parameters (effective stiffness and effective damping) correlated well with radiographic and histologic measures of bony support (r2 values ranged from 0.70 to 0.89). Moreover, the presence of nonlinear stiffness was clearly associated with a bimodal "clinical impression" of osseointegration (P < .0003, 1-way analysis of variance). These results confirm that, in this animal model, mechanical impedance can be used as a measure of implant osseointegration.
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