A wide range of materials have been used for the development of intervertebral cages. Poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF) has been shown to be an excellent biomaterial with characteristics similar to trabecular bone. Hydroxyapatite (HA) has been shown to enhance biocompatibility and mechanical properties of PPF. The purpose of this study was to characterize the effect of PPF augmented with HA (PPF:HA) and evaluate the feasibility of this material for the development of cervical cages. PPF was synthesized and combined with HA at PPF:HA wt:wt ratios of 100:0, 80:20, 70:30, and 60:40. Molds were fabricated for testing PPF:HA bulk materials in compression, bending, tension, and hardness according to ASTM standards, and also for cage preparation. The cages were fabricated with and without holes and with porosity created by salt leaching. The samples as well as the cages were mechanically tested using a materials testing frame. All elastic moduli as well as the hardness increased significantly by adding HA to PPF (p < 0.0001). The 20 wt % HA increased the moduli significantly compared to pure PPF (p < 0.0001). Compressive stiffness of all cages also increased with the addition of HA. HA increased the failure load of the porous cages significantly (p = 0.0018) compared with nonporous cages. PPF:HA wt:wt ratio of 80:20 proved to be significantly stiffer and stronger than pure PPF. The current results suggest that this polymeric composite can be a suitable candidate material for intervertebral body cages.

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