Smart coating helps surgical implants bond with bone, ward off infection

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Washington, Feb 4 (ANI): Scientists from North Carolina State University have developed what they call a "smart coating" that will help surgical implants bond more closely with bone and ward off infection.

When patients have hip, knee or dental replacement surgery, they run the risk of having their bodies reject the implant. But the smart coating mitigates that risk by fostering bone growth into the implant.

The coating creates a crystalline layer next to the implant, and a mostly amorphous outer layer that touches the surrounding bone.

The amorphous layer dissolves over time, releasing calcium and phosphate, which encourages bone growth.

"The bone grows into the coating as the amorphous layer dissolves, resulting in improved bonding, or osseointegration," said Dr. Afsaneh Rabiei, an NC State associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, associate faculty member of biomedical engineering and co-author of a paper describing the research.

This bonding also makes the implant more functional, because the bonding helps ensure that the bone and the implant do a better job of sharing the load.

"We call it a smart coating because we can tailor the rate at which the amorphous layer dissolves to match the bone growth rate of each patient," Rabiei added.

The researchers have also incorporated silver nanoparticles throughout the coating to ward off infections.

Currently, implant patients are subjected to an intense regimen of antibiotics to prevent infection immediately following surgery.

However, the site of the implant will always remain vulnerable to infection. But by incorporating silver into the coating, the silver particles will act as antimicrobial agents as the amorphous layer dissolves, Rabiei said.

This will not only limit the amount of antibiotics patients will need following surgery, but will provide protection from infection at the implant site for the life of the implant.

The research is published online by Acta BioMaterialia. (ANI)

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