A new surface treatment process for orthopaedic and dental implants has been developed to reduce the risk of infection.
Implants are commonly made from metals such as titanium alloys, which are porous. Although this ensures good contact between the implant and the bone, it also allows dangerous bacteria to adhere and grow, leading to increased risk of infection.
“Our work has focused on developing an analysis of surface treatments for commercial implants which reduces risk of infection,” said Professor Michael Gasik, one of the researchers for the study at Aalto University.
“What we wanted to do is find a way to avoid the formation of any undesirable products during the processing of the implant. At the same time we needed to make sure that the bio-mechanical properties of the implant would remain intact and, even more, become better.”
Professor Gasik continued: “Normally, implants require a certain level of porosity and elasticity to function properly. The challenge for us was to ensure full functionality of the implant while maintaining sufficient density of the coating during the heat treatment process.
“We have proven that by adding a certain amount of another compound called beta-tricalcium phosphate, such stresses are reduced and therefore preserves the biomaterial coating better.” This minimises the risk of coating destruction and bacterial adhesion, and improving cell proliferation, allows the implant surface to achieve its function in an optimal way.