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Novel plasma coating helps orthopaedic implants to integrate with bones

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Posted September 4, 2019

More and more people are getting orthopaedic implants. This is because of the ageing population and decreasing price of the procedure. However, despite the advancements in the field, a significant proportion of orthopaedic implants fail due to infection or poor integration with existing bone structure. Now scientists from the University of Sydney created a new plasma coating, which will help bone implants to settle in their places.

This artistic looking thing is actually a hip prosthetics. Image credit: Deutsche Fotothek‎ via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0 de)

Joint replacement surgeries may be very common, but they still cause a great deal of pain, discomfort and stress to the patients. Mostly, people are afraid of complications that lead to revision surgeries that are even more complicated than original joint replacement. In short, we need some sort of method or product that would reduce the risk of infection and would help prosthetic to integrate with the surrounding bone tissue. And that what University of Sydney-led team managed to do – the new antimicrobial plasma coatings for implants could decrease the complications from infection.

The coating consists of a mixture of low-cost argon, nitrogen and acetylene gas that is placed on the implant. Not only this coating has antibacterial effect stopping infections, it is also a good surface for bone cells to cling onto. And it is not fragile either. The possibility of it getting scratched during the surgery is actually quite high, but scientists say that it should be fine even if it happens. The best thing is that implants coated with this plasma coating would get integrated quicker reducing the chance of an implant loosening and failing. In-vivo testing in the Netherlands showed promising results.

This plasma coating is called like that because implants are surface-engineered using the plasma technology. Professor Marcela Bilek, one of the members of the research team, said: “This coating is fully organic and is a significant advancement because it robustly adheres to titanium implants, while presenting strongly attached biological signaling molecules that guide tissue formation at its interface with the body”.

Orthopaedic implant surgeries are going to become more common due to the ageing population. Each year another 90,000 devices are inserted in Australia alone. This costs healthcare systems a lot of money and avoiding revision surgeries would also mean avoiding a lot of pain.

 

Source: University of Sydney

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