Published on 04/02/2010
Researchers at North Carolina State University in the US have developed a new 'smart coating' that reduces the risk of infection in patients receiving surgical implants.
This new form of medical engineering reduces the risk of the body rejecting implants after hip, knee or dental surgery by encouraging simultaneous bonding and bone growth.
Dr Afsaneh Rabiei, one of the researchers, explained: "The bone grows into the coating as the amorphous [outer] layer dissolves, resulting in improved bonding or osseointegration.
"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."
According to the experts, this is important as young people's bones tend to grow faster than those of older adults.
At present, implant patients are put on an intense regime of antibiotics to prevent post-surgery infections.
However, silver nanoparticles incorporated throughout the new coating reduce the need for antibiotic treatments and provide long-term protection against infection in the body tissue around the implant.
In England and Wales there are approximately 160,000 total hip and knee replacement procedures performed each year, the National Joint Registry reports.
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