Bone Fractures and Healing with Bioabsorbable (Dissolving) Implants (Pins and Screws) - Finnish Technology
Biomaterials Science, the new frontier in biodegradeable devices for assisting bone healing.
Bioabsorbable, is a mouthful to say, but it is an innovation in bone healing that is worth a peek...
If you fracture your ankle, you might need pins to fasten the bones together while they mend, You have options available to you in the material that can be implanted.
Some of the instances where you may want to consider options, are allergies to metal components, already fragile health or other medical issues that might make a metal implant less suitable for you. It is something you might want to discuss with your surgeon.
For decades now, besides metal pins and screws , there is the option of having bioabsorbable devices implanted that are gradually replaced by your own bone as the implants are absorbed by your own body and eliminated from your system by normal bodily functions.
No surgical removal required. A sort of high tech heavy- duty dissolving bone suture!
Prior to 1984, the only option was to use metal pins that could be surgically implanted to hold the bone fragments together until the fracture was healed. They are still in use, the new bioabsorbable implant technology has not replaced them, but has created options where none existed before.
A metal implant stays permanently in place. Once you have one, it will always be there unless there is a problem with the implant. In such cases, the metal implant would have to be surgically removed.
Bioabsorbable Implant Technology Gave an Alternate Choice
That changed when in 1984, the first bioabsorbable implant created after years of research at Tampere University of Technology was successfully implanted into a human bone fracture. A female patient at the Helsinki University Hospital was the world's first recipient.
Since that time, this technology has been part of an alternative approach for repairing bone fractures.
Metal vs Bioabsorbable Implants
Metal implants are made with cobalt, chrome, stainless steel and titanium.
These metals contain traces of other metals as part of the alloys they are made of. Alloys are needed to give certain characteristics to the metal. It is rare, however, there is a slight risk that allergies could develop in sensitive patients. Two of the metals can be used as alloys are aluminum and nickel. As noted, allergies are rare, but can occur.
Many different types of bioabsorbable implants have been developed, but the originators of this innovative technology are still researching and innovating their product. The original team is now part of a company called Biorectec, still based in Tampere.
Biorectec's ActivaNail TM is manufactured with lactic/glycolic acid copolymer (PLGA). The implant degrades over time by hydrolysis into alpha-hydroxy acids, which are metabolized and eliminated by the body. When the degredation is complete, the body will have provided new bone growth in the area of the implant, completely replacing it. That is incredible!
Bioretec has just recently developed a new generation of bioadsorbable implant that incorporates antibiotic in the implant material in manufacture. The antibiotic is gradually released over a long period of time. This innovation called "CiproScrewTM ", is helpful in patients who are at risk for infection at the site of the implant. Diabetics would be one class of patients where this is beneficial since diabetics are generally slow to heal and infection is a definite risk in any surgical procedure. Others that would benefit are: those patients with the following conditions; the elderly, smokers and those with immunocompromised conditions.
I have included a video produced by Biorectec for your further information.
Biorectec has already obtained approval from the European Union to sell this specialized implant. It is currently being surgically implanted in Finland.
A member of my extended family in Finland just had the CiproScrew TM implanted for a fractured ankle! Here is a hearty wish for a speedy recovery to him... and a special thanks for help and links creating this material to: Wippe!
Such a fascinating technology!
For more comprehensive information and detailed explanation of their history and products visit Biorectec's web site:
Further Reading: All about Fractures
Here are some web pages that have information on fractures (for your information):