Biomedical engineers at Purdue University have proven that bone cells attach better to metals with nanometer-scale surface features, offering hope for improved prosthetic hips, knees and other implants.
Conventional titanium alloys used in hip and knee replacements are relatively smooth – their surfaces possess bumps measured in microns – or millionths of a meter. Natural bone and other tissues, however, have rougher surfaces with bumps about 100 nanometers – or billionths of a meter – wide.
The body often reacts to the smooth artificial parts as it would to any foreign invader: It covers the parts with a fibrous tissue intended to remove the unwanted material. This fibrous tissue gets between prosthetic devices and damaged body parts, preventing prostheses from making good contact with the body parts in which they are implanted and interfering with their proper functioning.
Emil Venere | Purdue University
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