Friday, September 24, 2010

Wolverine's skeleton! " you too can have one!"

Well, not adamantium indestructible skeleton is still a bit out of reach, other research advancements have put us all a bit closer.

At present, medical implants are made of solid metal, most often titanium. This material is used for many reasons. It is strong and doesn't often reacts with a body's immune system. However I myself can attest to one of the major drawbacks. These implants are amazingly stiff even under a great deal of torque. this means that the implants being so much stronger can withstand much more loading which wears natural bone at the interface. This leads to damage of the overall repair or replacement which calls for additional surgery.

Materials engineer Yuyuan Zhao says that Titanium foam could be a a very real alternative to letting bones grow and heal naturally or using solid metal replacements. Titanium foam, being porous, would allow natural bone to grow into the voids in the metal reducing the stress on both the original bone and the implant and making the overall skeleton stronger.

According to the IO9 article:
  • The titanium foam, which is made by combining polyurethane foam with titanium powder, could be most useful in reconnecting long gaps in broken bones. It hasn't yet been approved for use in humans, but its designers are currently consulting with physicians...
There is every indication though that once approved, new titanium foam could revolutionize repairs to the human skeleton.

IO9 post


Anonymous said...

Actually, metal implants like knees, hips, and shoulders are made of cobalt steel.

Beam Me Up said...

I thought the article was a bit too inclusive...but, then...I wonder if we are a bit off by say All are Cobalt. When they reattached the ball on my hip with a pin and plate, I said something to that effect only I said surgical steel and they called me on it saying nope, the pin was titanium...I can not remember what they said about the plate though....very well could have been colbalt though. All I can remember is sitting there like a idiot being called on it. But I do remember (I am quite sure) they mentioned the large pin as being titanium. Blowing smoke? (now there is an obscure medical reference for ya!)

Anonymous said...

Certainly some, maybe all, of the pins, screws, & attachments are Ti, but the appliances themselves (the actualy replacement joint) are cobalt steel. Non-metal joints are generaly ceramic.

Beam Me Up said...

Ok Anon, that ws where I wasn't making the distinction - mine was not a repair but a rather sizable appliance to reduce the fracture which is a nice way of saying I snapped the ball off clean.