Promoting osseointegration with electrical stimulation: a review
Electrical stimulation has shown to be a promising approach for promoting osseointegration in bone-anchored implants, where osseointegration defines the biological bonding between an implant surface and bone tissue. Bone-anchored implants are used in the rehabilitation of hearing and limb loss, and extensively in edentulous patients. Inadequate osseointegration is one of the major factors of implant failure that could be prevented by accelerating or enhancing the osseointegration process by artificial means. In this article, we reviewed the efforts to enhance the biofunctionality at the implant-bone interface with electrical stimulation using various approaches such as different electrode configurations, power sources, and waveform-dependent stimulation parameters tested in different in vitro and in vivo models. We reviewed and compared studies from the last 45 years and found nonuniform protocols with disparities in cell type and animal model, implant location, experimental timeline, implant material, evaluation assays, and type of electrical stimulation. The reporting of stimulation parameters was also found to be inconsistent and incomplete throughout the literature. Studies using in vitro models showed that osteoblasts were sensitive to the magnitude of the electric field and duration of exposure, and such variables similarly affected bone quantity around implants in in vivo investigations. Most studies showed benefits of electrical stimulation in the underlying processes leading to osseointegration, and therefore we found the idea of promoting osseointegration by using electric fields to be supported by the available evidence. However, such an effect has not been demonstrated conclusively nor optimally in humans. We found that optimal stimulation parameters have not been thoroughly investigated and this remains an important step towards the clinical translation of this concept. In addition, there is a need for reporting standards to enable meta-analysis for evidence-based treatments.