Generally, titanium fixation plates are not removed after osteosynthesis, because they have high biocompatability and high corrosion resistance characteristics. Experiments with laboratory animals, and limited studies of analyses of human tissues, have reported evidence of titanium release into local and distant tissues. This study summarizes our results of the analysis of soft tissues for titanium in four patients with titanium microfixation plates. Energy dispersive x-ray analysis, scanning electron microscopy, and electrothermal atomic absorption spectrophotometry were used to detect trace amounts of titanium in surrounding soft tissues. A single metal inclusion was detected by scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive x-ray analysis in one patient, whereas, electrothermal atomic absorption spectrophotometry analyses revealed titanium present in three of four specimens in levels ranging from 7.92 to 31.8 μg/gm of dry tissue. Results from this study revealed trace amounts of titanium in tissues surrounding craniofacial plates. At the atomic level, electrothermal atomic absorption spectrophotometry appears to be a sensitive tool to quantitatively detect ultra-trace amounts of metal in human tissue.
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