Articular surface congruency and graft stability are considered essential factors in the success of osteochondral grafting; however, quantitative measures of short-term load bearing capacity of grafts implanted by the mosaicplasty technique have not been reported. The purpose of this study was to develop a live tissue in vitro model to examine short-term fixation strength of mosaicplasty autografts immediately after and 1 week following graft implantation. Cylindrical osteochondral autografts were implanted in vitro by the mosaicplasty technique on five pairs of porcine femoral condyles within one and a half hours of animal sacrifice. Immediately following the surgical procedure, graft push-in and pull-out strength tests as well as indentation tests to determine modulus of the surrounding cancellous bone were performed on half of the specimens from the distal femurs of each animal. The remaining specimens, matched for location in the contralateral leg, were incubated in culture medium for 7 days prior to performing the same set of mechanical tests. Averaged push-in and pull-out graft fixation strength decreased 44% from 135.7 to 75.5N over the 7-day period, while no change in modulus was detected in the surrounding cancellous bone. These in vitro results demonstrate a substantial deterioration of short-term fixation strength of mosaicplasty grafts from the immediate post-operative state. Such a reduction in short-term graft load bearing capacity may pose a threat to the surgically established articular surface congruency and blood vessels formed during the early stages of the healing response.

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