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Reconstructive Implants and Bioresorbable Materials
Historically, reconstructive implants have been made of permanent materials such as metal or ceramic. Permanent or nonresorbable implants remain in the body after healing takes place, unless they are surgically removed. In an effort to provide patients alternative treatment options, surgeons and scientists have explored the benefits of bioresorbable materials. Bioresorbable implants, made from molecules similar to those in the human body, resorb while the tissue is healing.
Bioresorbable Polymer Implant Material
Bioresorbable polymer implants are made from essentially the same lactic acid molecular building blocks that occur naturally in the human body. (Lactic acid is produced in the muscles during strenuous activity.) Long molecular polymer chains are created by combining lactic acid derivatives known as lactides. The resulting polymers are generally referred to as polylactides or PLa. MacroPore Biosurgery implants, used for hard tissue (bone) and soft tissue applications, are made from Polylactide: a copolymer of 70:30 Poly(L-lactide-co-D,L-lactide).
The copolymer maintains its strength during the healing process, and through hydrolysis slowly breaks down into lactic acid molecules. The resorption process occurs in two phases: (1) H2O (water) penetrates the implant, reacts with the polymer and breaks the polymer chains (hydrolysis); (2) hydrolysis converts the long chains into shorter chains until the polymer fragments into single lactic acid molecules. Lactic acid molecules are then metabolized by the liver into CO2 (carbon dioxide) and H2O and released through the lungs.
Bioresorbable polymers provide relatively high strength and predictable resorption rates for specific hard or soft tissue applications. Different resorption rates are beneficial for various surgical applications. For example, rapidly healing tissue (pediatric) may require an implant with a faster resorption rate than an implant designed for adult tissue that may experience slower or impaired healing. The resorption rates are controlled through material selection and implant fabrication methods.
Clinical Applications for Bioresorbable Polymer Implants
MacroPore Biosurgery designs, develops, and produces bioresorbable polymer implants for use in hard tissue (bone) and soft tissues in neurosurgical, spine, and other musculoskeletal applications.
Bioresorbable Polymer Implant Advantages
- Bioresorbable, biocompatible, and "biofriendly."
- Application versatility designed for hard tissue (bone) and soft tissues.
- Predictable resorption rate.
- Avoids risk of disease transmission associated with human or animal materials.
- Does not obscure radiographs or MRI/CT scans.
- Strength appropriate for specific applications.
- Reduced risk of long-term failure requiring re-operation.
- Reduced risk of stress shielding or weakening the healing bone (rigid metal implants may weaken bone over time).