One step closer to Shadowrun
*marks Titanium Bone Lacing off the to-do list*
Titanium - it's everywhere these days, long having spread beyond its initial uses in aerospace. Fruitbite laptops are cased in it, high-end tools and cutlery are made from it, there's even jewellery. Titanium foam developed by the Fraunhofer Institutes. Credit: IFAM The latest in foamalloy endoskeletons. Titanium alloy is …
"The "TiFoam" is made by soaking ordinary polyurethane foam in a solution containing fine titanium powder. Then everything except the titanium is brutally vapourised and the powder sintered together, forming a metallic replica of the original polyurethane."
Wouldn't it rather form a metallic 'negative' of the original polyurethane? That is, what used to be polyurethane is now air holes, and what used to be airholes (pre titanium solution soaking) is now titanium?
I for one welcome more technology that tries to make me live longer! :D Fraunhofer, telomere lengthening for christmas next year please!!!
to see if bone would gradually permute the foam over time.
My thoughts are that if it is similar in strength to human bone, it may break, but if over time ordinary bone grows through, it may be able to heal with ordinary bone, without further surgical intervention. Now that would be revolutionary. It may completely change the lives of people who currently have to go through serious bone grafting after injury.
I am not in any way associated with a medical profession, and I am just idly speculating, so I'm sure someone will say that this can't happen. Still...
I had the same thought as you when I read the article. There is no (obvious) reason why bone will not colonise the skeleton. Much successful work is being done in growing new organs on scaffolding structures outside the body. Science fiction has taken one more step to becoming science fact.
>so I'm sure someone will say that this can't happen.
Not at all - there are any number of projects of this type in the lab at the moment - it's just that even after getting it to work in the lab there's still ten years of clinical trials to go through.
The titanium foam isn't even particularly innovative (been done years ago) - far better is a material that supports the bone structural whilst new bone grows and then selectively dissolves as new bone replaces it so that in the end after a year or two the implant is completely gone (even if half the bone is missing to start with). Early systems along these lines are already up and running.
Materials which are easy for bone to bond to are generally also easy for bacteria to colonise, and implant infection is a problem anyway because of the limited blood supply to the region. So I won't be recommending this for my Mother for a couple of years yet, until there good evidence that it's not another bad idea.
Oh, and don't think that loading it up with antibiotics is going to solve the problem: those heart implants actually had worse outcomes than the antibiotic-free versions.
The titanium surface is passivated (oxidized) to form a layer of TiO2, a chemically and biologically very stable compound which doesn't offer a good substrate for bacteria and has some antibiotic properties. The foam structure allows a very high degree of vascularization for the implant, supposedly allowing our immune system to take care of the infections by itself.
This sounds like a winner, but I totally subscribe the part about waiting a few years before recommending this.
ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!!!!
I was "encouraged" to use one of those fruit-bite computers back in the days of the black-and-white postage-stamp-sized screen imitation desktop thing that did its best to print one page an hour if it felt like it. Not much to love. Even Windows 3.1 was did better than that. And the screen was bigger.
Back to the story about titanium.... Clever stuff. The last time I remember something like this being used effectively was the implantation of coral. Coral was being used because it was natural, easy to sterilise, and was replaced with bone over time. It would be interesting to see how well the body treats the titanium over time.
I've been working my way through implant surgeries since a bike accident 15 years ago. The original Stellite stuff was fine but caused wear on adjacent bones due to its extreme weight. The solid titanium is working a treat so far - I like the kevlar kneecap too, thanks guys - but if next time around they decide to go for foam, I will be happy to write you a review.
That's be RegHardware though, right?
...And a good chunk of the very people this is targetted at can't use it because they're allergic to the stuff.
Titanium reactions are nasty and responsible for a sizeable percentage of implant failures every year, thanks to a penny-pinching approach from the NHS of not pretesting for sensitivity to the metal before shoving it in someone's body.
People who have to have inplants removed then have to undergo ever more excruciating surgery to have more bone removed so that alternatives can be used - or face being crippled for life.
Different metals please!
Titanium allergy rates are about 4%. Titanium is an inert metal, so there is a certain amount of disbelief that the 4% even exists. And the 4% rate is what a producer of Titanium allergy testing products states, so the general population rates are probably a lot lower.
The remaining 4% will have to get by with stainless steel.
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