The effect of pore size and porosity on mechanical properties and biological response of porous titanium scaffolds

The effect of pore size and porosity on elastic modulus, strength, cell attachment and cell proliferation was studied for Ti porous scaffolds manufactured via powder metallurgy and sintering. Porous scaffolds were prepared in two ranges of porosities so that their mechanical properties could mimic those of cortical and trabecular bone respectively. Space-holder engineered pore size distributions were carefully determined to study the impact that small changes in pore size may have on mechanical and biological behaviour. The Young’s moduli and compressive strengths were correlated with the relative porosity. Linear, power and exponential regressions were studied to confirm the predictability in the characterisation of the manufactured scaffolds and therefore establish them as a design tool for customisation of devices to suit patients’ needs. The correlations were stronger for the linear and the power law regressions and poor for the exponential regressions. The optimal pore microarchitecture (i.e. pore size and porosity) for scaffolds to be used in bone grafting for cortical bone was set to <212μm with volumetric porosity values of 27-37%, and for trabecular tissues to 300-500μm with volumetric porosity values of 54-58%. The pore size range 212-300μm with volumetric porosity values of 38-56% was reported as the least favourable to cell proliferation in the longitudinal study of 12 days of incubation.