Electrospun and 3D printed polymeric materials for one-stage critical-size long bone defect regeneration inspired by the Masquelet technique: Recent Advances

Published:February 15, 2022DOI:


      • Polycaprolactone (PCL) is amongst the most widely used base polymer materials aimed at bone regeneration using both, electrospinning and 3D printing.
      • PCL is often followed by PLLA (poly-l-lactide) and PLGA (poly Lactic-co-Glycolic Acid) as base/ combination materials for fabricating electrospun scaffolds for bone regeneration.
      • For 3D printing technique, ceramic materials like hydroxyapatite (HA) and /βTCP (β-tricalcium phosphate) are more commonly used.
      • Chitosan is often used along with other materials to provide mechanical strength to scaffolds.
      • In vivo data is only available from a handful of the studies that investigate the above mentioned materilas in vitro.


      Critical-size long bone defects represent one of the major causes of fracture non-union and remain a significant challenge in orthopaedic surgery. Two-stage procedures such as a Masquelet technique demonstrate high level of success however their main disadvantage is the need for a second surgery, which is required to remove the non-resorbable cement spacer and to place the bone graft into the biological chamber formed by the ‘induced membrane’. Recent research efforts have therefore been dedicated towards the design, fabrication and testing of resorbable implants that could mimic the biological functions of the cement spacer and the induced membrane. Amongst the various manufacturing techniques used to fabricate these implants, three-dimensional (3D) printing and electrospinning methods have gained a significant momentum due their high-level controllability, scalable processing and relatively low cost. This review aims to present recent advances in the evaluation of electrospun and 3D printed polymeric materials for critical-size, long bone defect reconstruction, emphasizing both their beneficial properties and current limitations. Furthermore, we present and discuss current state-of-the art techniques required for characterisation of the materials’ physical, mechanical and biological characteristics. These represent the essential first steps towards the development of personalised implants for single-surgery, large defect reconstruction in weight-bearing bones.


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