The top scanning electron microscope image (b) shows a cross section of the bioactive hydroxyapatite/YSZ coating without heat treatment. Note how the two layers are distinct. The bottom image (f) shows the coating after heat treatment. Note how the layers are now integrated. (Credit: Afsaneh Rabiei/NC State University)

Engineering a better spinal implant

February 20, 2013

Researchers from North Carolina State University have for the first time successfully coated polymer implants with a bioactive film.

The discovery should improve the success rate of such implants, which are often used in spinal surgeries.

The polymer used in polymer (plastic) implants, called PEEK, does not bond well with bone or other tissues in the body. This can result in the implant rubbing against surrounding tissues, which can lead to medical complications and the need for additional surgeries.

“We wanted to apply a bioactive coating that would allow the polymer implants to bond with surrounding tissues,” says Dr. Afsaneh Rabiei, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NC State and lead author of a paper on the research.

“The challenge was that these coatings need to be heated to 500 degrees Celsius, but the polymer melts at 300 C. We’ve finally solved the problem.”

Read more: Engineering a better spinal implant | KurzweilAI.

Home           Top of page