Objectives: Functional tooth replacement and bone regeneration are parts of the daily practice in modern dentistry, but well-reproducible and relatively inexpensive experimental models are still missing. We aimed to develop a new small animal model to monitor osseointegration utilizing the combination of multiple evaluation protocols. Material and methods: After cutting the tail between the C4 and C5 vertebrae in Wistar rats, costume made, parallel walled, non-threaded implants were placed into the center of the tail parallel with its longitudinal axis using a surgical guide. Osseointegration of the titanium implants was followed between 4 and 16 weeks after surgery applying axial extraction force, and resonance frequency analysis as functional tests, and histomorphometry and micro-CT as structural evaluations. Results: In functional tests, we observed that both methods are suitable for the detection of the time-dependent increase in osseointegration, but the sensitivity of the pull-out technique (an approximately five times increase with rather low standard error) was much higher than that of the resonance frequency analysis. In structural evaluations, changes in the detected bone implant contact values measured by histomorphometry (yielding 1.5 times increase, with low variations of data) were more reliable than micro-CT based evaluations to screen the developments of contact between bone and implant. Conclusion: Our results provide evidence that the caudal vertebrae osseointegration model is useful for the preclinical evaluation of implant integration into the bone. Clinical relevance: The combination of the biomechanical and structural tests offers a well-reproducible small animal system that can be suitable for studying the integration of various implant materials and surface treatments.
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