Medical implants work better when you rough them up, study finds

COLUMBUS, Ohio Medical implants from catheters that deliver long-term life support to joint replacements may work better when their surfaces are on the rough side, new research suggests.

Implants often have surfaces that soft tissue, such as skin and connective tissue, cannot attach to, said Andreas von Recum, the study's lead author and a professor of biomedical engineering at Ohio State University. So the body in turn forms a tissue capsule around the implant, sealing it off from the rest of the body.

That seclusion can lead to a variety of serious problems, von Recum said.

For instance, there are more than 300,000 hip and knee replacements each year in the United States. Such implants usually last for 10 to 12 years until they become loose and quite painful and need to be replaced.

"Being encased in connective tissue seriously compromises an implant's function," von Recum said. "And connective tissue can't tolerate constantly moving against a foreign object. This friction and ensuing inflammation kills healthy cells and creates a steadily growing capsule of dead tissue." Adding texture to an implant's surface the researchers used titanium in this study increased compatibility with connective tissue cells, called fibroblasts, considerably.

And while the researchers conducted their experiments using titanium, which is commonly used to make implants, all implants can benefit from having a textured surface, von Recum said.

The study appears in a recent issue of the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A. von Recum conducted the study with Rakhi Jain, a former doctoral student at Ohio State. von Recum is also the associate dean for research in veterinary medicine at Ohio State.

The researchers coated disk-shaped polyester wafers with titanium. The disks were round and about the size of a nickel. Some of the disks were covered with grooves only several microns deep. Some bone implants current

Contact: Andreas von Recum
Ohio State University

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