Orthopedic and Dental Implants Aided by New Coating

Posted by Admin on March 31, 2010
A newly developed electrochemical process for coating metal implants vastly improves their functionality, longevity, and integration into the body, according to research conducted at Tel Aviv University. The new process has the potential to greatly improve the lives of people who have undergone joint replacement surgeries, improving their ability to walk, run and ultimately avoid the body's rejection of the implant.

Tel Aviv researcher, Prof. Noam Eliaz, explains that, “The surface chemistry, structure, and morphology of our new coatings resemble biological material. We’ve been able to enhance the integration of the coating with the mineralized tissue of the body, allowing more peoples’ bodies to accept implants.” The new coating has resulted in a 33% decrease in material failure with these implants.

Currently, surgeons can reconstruct joints in the human body using metal implants that take the place of the natural joint. To integrate the implant with the adjacent bone, the metal structure is often coated with synthetic hydroxyapatite, a compound similar to the main inorganic ingredient in enamel, dentin, and vertebrate bone.

Professor Eliaz’s advance is in the actual implementation of the coatings rather than the ingredients found within. Rather than rely on traditional plasma-spraying, his team have developed a way to electrochemically deposit synthetic hydroxyapatite. During the process, the metal structure is bathed in electrolyte solution and an electric current is applied.

According to Professor Eliaz, properly coating the implant is crucial to stabilizing the implant in the surrounding bone. Since apatite is naturally found in human bones, covering the implant with a synthetic substitute assures the body that the implant is similar to a real bone. The resulting fully integrated implant also helps to prevent dangerous materials from leaking from the metal implant into the blood stream.

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