The effect of dental implant spacing on peri-implant bone using the rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) tibia model

C. Lee Hatley, Stephen M. Cameron, Michael F. Cuenin, M. Harry Parker, Stevan H. Thompson, Stephen B. Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study investigated the effects of implant proximity on inter-implant bone height, density, and osseointegration using digital radiography and histology. Materials and Methods: After a feasibility study, a total of 80 endosteal implants were placed in 20 New Zealand White Rabbit tibias. With the aid of a surgical jig, four 8.5-mm implants were placed in the medial aspect of the tibial crest at inter-implant distances of approximately 1, 1.5, and 3 mm. Standardized digital radiographs using a paralleling device were made immediately after placement of implants. Implants were allowed to osseointegrate for 90 days. After this healing period, the animals were sacrificed, and the standardized radiographs were repeated. The tibias were harvested, processed, and invested in epoxy. Sagittal sections were made from each specimen for histologic evaluation. The initial and postmortem digital radiographs were evaluated for inter-implant distances, vertical bone height changes over time and between implant pairs, and bone density changes over time and between implant pairs using a computer image analysis program and computer statistics program. Results: The actual inter-implant distances were consistent in a range of 0.2 mm. Bone height increased significantly from presurgical levels at all 3 locations (p < .0005). Repeated measures analysis of variance comparing change in bone height at the 3 implant pair distances showed significant differences among the 3 (p = .002). Paired t tests showed that the amount of bone growth at the 1-mm separation site was significantly greater than the 1.5-mm site (p = .026) and the 3-mm site (p = .001), whereas bone growth at the 1.5- and 3-mm sites did not show significant differences (p = .162). A repeated measures analysis of variance comparing change in bone density showed no significant differences (p > .05) among the 3 inter-implant distances for either the 8-mm position (approximately crestal bone height) or the 6-mm position (approximately 2 mm subcrestal). Conclusion: Within the limits of this study, it seems placing implants closely together does not adversely affect bone height or density. Conversely, it seems that placing implants closer together may increase bone growth. J Prosthodont 2001;10:154-159. This is a US government work. There are no restrictions on its use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-159
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Prosthodontics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2001


  • Bone histology
  • Digital radiodensitometry
  • Digital radiography
  • Implant spacing
  • Implants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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