Fraunhofer develops silver implant coating to reduce infection risk

November 9, 2020

Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials (Fraunhofer IFAM) have developed a new implant-coating process that uses antibiotic medication and silver to reduce the risk of and prevent infections, such as when a patient receives a titanium artificial hip. Preclinical trials have shown that this coating process is indeed effective at preventing infections and could be applied to many types of titanium implants in future.

With a titanium artificial hip, for instance, there’s always the risk of an infection developing at the interface between the metal and the bone: Fraunhofer IFAM thus uses a laser to structure the surface of an existing titanium hip with microscopic pores, each one wider at the bottom than they are at the top; a thin layer of antimicrobial silver is deposited to coat the inside walls of each pore; the titanium hip is finally dipped in an antibiotic solution, tailored to the specific needs of each patient.

Once the hip has been implanted the antibiotic starts flowing from the pores into the surrounding tissue, to prevent any infections from developing immediately after surgery. The silver then releases bacteria-killing ions for the next several weeks, providing protection against infections throughout the healing phase.

Additionally, because the surface of the implant has been made more textured and porous, it’s better able to integrate with the adjacent bone – bone cells actually grow into the pores, helping anchor the implant to the bone over time.

Category: Features, Technology & Devices

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