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New Implants Reduce Infection and Improve Recovery from Orthopedic Surgery

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 06 Dec 2023

Orthopedic implant surgeries globally face a significant challenge with infection rates, which vary from 2% to 10% in developed nations and can reach up to 15% in less developed areas. These infections not only complicate the recovery process but also often necessitate additional, painful surgeries. In severe cases, infections can lead to the emergence of 'superbugs', increasing the risk of fatalities. Researchers are now advancing the development of a new coating for orthopedic implants, such as knee and hip replacements, that features a strong ability to prevent infections and promote bone growth.

This innovative technology is being perfected at Flinders University (Bedford Park, Australia), in collaboration with Chinese researchers, and has been patented after yielding promising results. It involves the use of Silver-Gallium (Ag-Ga) nano-amalgamated particles that can be effectively applied to the surfaces of medical devices. While the antibacterial properties of silver compounds have been widely studied, the toxicity of silver ions to human cells has hampered their medical application. The breakthrough Ag-Ga nano-amalgamation formula addresses this challenge by ensuring a controlled and sustained release of both silver and gallium ions.


Image: A new orthopedic implant coating can ward off infection (Photo courtesy of 123RF)
Image: A new orthopedic implant coating can ward off infection (Photo courtesy of 123RF)

GaLM was instrumental in the galvanic deposition of silver nanocrystals (Ag) onto an oxide layer. GaLM plays a dual role: it not only transports silver during the galvanic replacement process but also controls the release of silver. The Ag-Ga nano-amalgamated particles demonstrated strong antimicrobial effects against a range of bacterial strains in animal studies. This novel material can be applied to various medical devices through a controlled spray-casting method, offering protection against infections while also exerting an anti-inflammatory effect and stimulating bone growth. Recent tests conducted by the research team suggest that this dual benefit of antibacterial protection and tissue integration could be advantageous for a wide array of medical devices, including those used in orthopedic, trauma, and dental applications. This discovery presents a much-needed solution to infections associated with medical devices and has the potential to be adapted for use in various implantable devices, catheters, other access devices, and even wound dressings where infections are a significant concern.

“Commercialization opportunities could make this solution available to clinicians and patients in the near future – at a time when growing antibiotic resistance is yet another problem in global healthcare,” said Dr. Vi-Khanh Truong, from the Biomedical Nanoengineering Laboratory (BNL) at Flinders University.

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