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Biomedical Implant Coatings

 


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Hydroxyapatite (HA) and titanium are now more than ever used as coatings for joint replacement implants and dental implants. HA and titanium promote bone ingrowth between the joint implant and the patient's bone itself. This ingrowth allows for a sturdier implant that precipitates less pain and recovery time when compared to traditional implants that contain cement.

What follows is a list of the most common types of implants for which HA and titanium are used as implant coatings and the benefits that these coatings specifically provide for each implant.

Finger: Joint replacement is recognized as a treatment option for large joints which have been severely damaged by arthritis. Most people are unaware that when small joints such as those found in fingers become painful, deformed and/or limited, relief can come by replacing the joints with titanium and hydroxyapatite coated implants. Since full function is not restored, finger implant surgery is not considered the first choice of treatment, but for those who do make the choice, the reduction of pain due to arthritis is often significant. The surgery is most valuable for patients who will regain function and who will benefit greatly from achievable pain relief.

Ankle: Total ankle replacement is an option for patients with severe arthritis. Similar to hip and knee replacement surgeries, total ankle replacement involves removing the arthritic ankle joint and replacing it with an implant. Total ankle replacement was developed in the 1970's with limited success. The older implants often loosened or malfunctioned and frequently needed to be removed. Today, manufacturers have developed a porous titanium implant coating that has made ankle replacement surgery a more viable option. Typically, the implant consists of two titanium end plates with a refined polyethylene center. When the end plates are coated with titanium or hydroxyapatite, the coating allows the implant to mimic the motion of a natural ankle. Prior to total ankle replacement surgery, the only surgical option for patients with disabling arthritis was fusion, which completely restricts the patient's ankle motion.

Hip Total hip joint replacement is an orthopaedic success story, enabling hundreds of thousands of people to live fuller, more active lives. Using metal alloys, high-grade plastics, and polymeric materials, orthopaedic surgeons can replace painful, dysfunctional joints with highly functional, long-lasting prostheses. Hydroxyapatite and titanium coatings allow for cement-less implants and promote bone ingrowth between implant and human bone. Today, the top performing designs all have porous titanium and hydroxyapatite surfaces that make for stronger implants and shorter recovery times.

Dental: Dental implants are available uncoated, with a titanium plasma sprayed (TPS) coating and with a hydroxyapatite coating. The choice of coating is a matter of personal preference as all coatings are successfully used by clinicians around the world. Although, hydroxyapatite (HA) coatings can help jump start the integration process in dental implants, reducing recovery time. As a result, dental implants coated with hydroxyapatite are becoming an increasingly popular choice when placing an implant.

L-Vertebrae: Degenerative Disk Disease (DDD) is one of the most common causes of lower back pain in adults. Many patients discover relief from pain caused by DDD by pursuing nonsurgical methods such as therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and weight loss. For patients who don't experience adequate pain relief through nonsurgical treatments, lumbar fusion has long been a common surgical treatment for alleviating lower back pain. While lumbar fusion can be an effective treatment, it severely restricts motion and it does not always provide pain relief. Porous titanium coatings have allowed many medical device manufacturers to develop new, FDA approved artificial disk replacement options. Artificial disks can reduce lower back pain while also allowing the patient to retain spinal motion. Disks coated in titanium become firmly fixed in bone just weeks after the operation and typically allow for reduced pain and greater range of motion.

Elbow: Until recently, patients in need of implant surgery to relieve the pain that comes along with elbow arthritis received elbow prostheses that require cement for bone fixation. In fact, despite the increased use of hydroxyapatite and titanium as implant coatings, cement implants are still fairly common. Hydroxyapatite coatings achieve greater bone ingrowth than do cement implants. Increased bone ingrowth makes for a more durable implant that allows for increased range of motion and less pain.

Shoulder: Arthritis of the shoulder joint causes damage to bone and cartilage. If left untreated, the damage can cause a great deal of pain. Shoulder implant coatings are currently made of a variety of materials, including titanium, cobalt chrome, ceramics and pyrocarbons. Pyrocarbon is a very lightweight material that is preferable to traditional steel coatings which are heavy and bulky. Implants coated with titanium are lightweight and have a similar consistency to that of bone. Shoulder implants coated with advanced materials exhibit exceptional bone ingrowth qualities which gives the implant superb strength and the patient increased range of motion.

Knee: Recent advancements in titanium coating characteristics have allowed medical manufacturers to develop knee implants that exhibit superior bone ingrowth to traditional implants. It is the porosity of titanium that allows for bone ingrowth and thus makes it ideal for knee replacement implants. Improved bone ingrowth reduces recovery time and increases range of motion in knee replacement patients. Hydroxyapatite and titanium implant coatings have made joint implant surgery a more viable, less painful option for many people suffering from joint pain.

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