May 23, 2024

The Future of Implants: Bioresorbable Materials

However, permanent implants also come with some disadvantages such as requiring additional surgery for removal, risk of long-term complications, inability to image areas near implants with certain technologies like MRI, and discomfort. To address these drawbacks, researchers have been investigating bioresorbable implants made from materials that dissolve safely in the body over time. These implants could revolutionize medicine by providing temporary scaffolding for healing and then disappearing once their job is done.

What are Bioresorbable Implants?

Bioresorbable implants are made from materials that are broken down and absorbed by the body naturally over a predetermined time frame. As the implant slowly dissolves, it allows new bone or tissue to regrow and take over the role previously provided by the implant. Some key advantages of bioresorbable implants include:

– Elimination of required implant removal surgery: Since bioresorbable implants dissolve on their own, patients do not need an additional operation to take them out once healing is complete. This reduces risks, costs, and recovery time.

– Ability to image healed areas: After the implant is absorbed, it no longer obscures imaging of the treated area with techniques like MRI and CT scans that cannot see through permanent metal implants. This allows for proper post-treatment monitoring.

– Promotion of natural healing: As the implant dissolves, it leaves space for new bone or tissue to reform without obstacles. This restores the area to its pre-injury state more comprehensively.

Popular Bioresorbable Materials

Scientists have developed various biocompatible materials that can serve as the building blocks for bioresorbable implants. Some of the most widely researched options include:

– Polylactic acid (PLA): A biodegradable thermoplastic polyester that breaks down into natural metabolic products. PLA provides enough strength as an implant material while resorbing in 1-2 years.

– Polyglycolic acid (PGA): Another biocompatible polyester capable of fully degrading in 4-6 months. It offers high mechanical strength but a short degradation time.

– Polycaprolactone (PCL): A semi-crystalline polyester that takes 1-2 years to absorb in the body. PCL maintains its strength over a longer period compared to other biopolymers.

– Magnesium alloys: Magnesium is an essential mineral and its alloys can dissolve while generating new bone. Magnesium implants resorb in 9-18 months.

– Calcium phosphate ceramics: These mimic the mineral component of bones and teeth. As an implant material, they dissolve congruently within 1-2 years.

Applications of Bioresorbable Implants

Bioresorbable implants are already being used successfully in various medical fields with tremendous promise for more innovations. Here are some notable current and potential applications:

Orthopedic Surgery
– Fracture fixation devices like pins, screws, and plates that set broken bones but dissolve after healing. This avoids removal surgery.

– Tissue scaffolding for damaged cartilage or osteochondral defects that gradually degrades as the tissue regrows.

– Meniscus repairs using Bioresorbable Implants sutures and tacks that secure tears but vanish with time.

Maxillofacial & Craniofacial Surgery
– Bioresorbable plates and screws mend fractures in the face, jaw or skull while eliciting less inflammation than permanent metal hardware.

– Temporary chin augmentation using bioresorbable implants that contour the area until permanent results from healing.

– Scaffolds that prop open clogged arteries during angioplasty and stenting but get absorbed later on.

– Sutures and surgical meshes that seal vessels and tissues short-term before dissolving harmlessly.

– Degradable lenses, shields and plugs for damaged or absent ocular tissues like the cornea or glaucoma shunts.

The Future is Now

With continued research refining materials science and manufacturing techniques, bioresorbable implants are poised to fundamentally change many medical specialties. Their ability to provide temporary structure during healing and then seamlessly integrate with the body makes them ideal for an array of procedures. Major biomedical companies have commercialized various bioresorbable products already in cardiology, orthopedics and ophthalmology. As new applications are conceived and approved, these advanced implants will help millions of patients worldwide avoid additional surgeries while experiencing improved recovery outcomes. The future of implantable devices is bioresorbable.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it