VIDEO: Could 3D printing of biodegradable metal implants be the next big thing?
BIODEGRADABLE IMPLANT METALS – NEXT BIG THING? (Orthopedics This Week)
It is hazardous to try to predict the “next big thing” in medicine, but the National Science Foundation may be doing just that by investing $31 million in an attempt to discover metal surgical implants that will deteriorate in the body.
Getting some of those research funds is University of Pittsburgh engineering professor Prashant Kumta, Ph.D.
According to Stacy Lawrence, writing for Fierce Medical Devices, Kumta has developed biodegradable implants made of iron and magnesium that are built using a 3-D printer that mixes glue droplets with mineral powder. Kumta says that magnesium “has the mechanical characteristics that meet natural bone, both from the strength [and] the toughness as well as the density.” He says that magnesium has the perfect density to match with natural bone. His hope is to do away with metal screws, rods, pins and plates in the body in favor of favor of implants of “biologically necessary minerals that would serve as the basis for healing and then safely biodegrade.”
Lawrence quoted Kumta as saying, “You can actually create an architecture that mimics the original bone that the patient has lost. The fixation plate will provide the mechanical strength needed to carry the load, and the bone-wide filler would help provide the healing and the bone formation.”
Kumta is also working on a novel calcium phosphate putty to be injected in the spaces around its 3-D printed biodegradable implants, as well as between fractured bones.