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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 458253, 15 pages
Review Article

Development of Composite Scaffolds for Load-Bearing Segmental Bone Defects

Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78249, USA

Received 1 May 2013; Accepted 2 July 2013

Academic Editor: Aijun Wang

Copyright © 2013 Marcello Pilia et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The need for a suitable tissue-engineered scaffold that can be used to heal load-bearing segmental bone defects (SBDs) is both immediate and increasing. During the past 30 years, various ceramic and polymer scaffolds have been investigated for this application. More recently, while composite scaffolds built using a combination of ceramics and polymeric materials are being investigated in a greater number, very few products have progressed from laboratory benchtop studies to preclinical testing in animals. This review is based on an exhaustive literature search of various composite scaffolds designed to serve as bone regenerative therapies. We analyzed the benefits and drawbacks of different composite scaffold manufacturing techniques, the properties of commonly used ceramics and polymers, and the properties of currently investigated synthetic composite grafts. To follow, a comprehensive review of in vivo models used to test composite scaffolds in SBDs is detailed to serve as a guide to design appropriate translational studies and to identify the challenges that need to be overcome in scaffold design for successful translation. This includes selecting the animal type, determining the anatomical location within the animals, choosing the correct study duration, and finally, an overview of scaffold performance assessment.