The Makrolon Rx1851 material provides biocompatibility and strength for OrthoSensor's Knee Balancer, which gives surgeons real-time feedback on soft tissue balancing during total knee replacement procedures. (Source: Bayer MaterialScience)
Is this step toward the massive use of plastics in medicine? I do wonder why the flame retardant plastic is used, or is a desirable property. I guess it is desirable in general, but why in this application?
Lou, plastic is already used widely in medical applications, both inside the body and in a lot of medical equipment and tools. Flame retardancy became a big deal in medical-grade plastics some years ago, especially as more plastics were used in hospital environments, an environment where this characteristic is extremely important. The topic has become not whether a plastic should be flame retardant but what type should be used: for example, whether the flame retardant material is environmentally hazardous and/or bioaccumulates in organisms such as humans after continued exposure.
Naperlou, the flame retardant quality was attributed to plastics to be used in diagnostic imaging equipment. Such equipment is very expensive; hospitals do not want said equipment damaged when their patients spontaneously combust.
I agree, it seems odd to be pushing that quality when so much other non-flame-retardant plastic is all around a hospital.
Plastics have been more beneficial in medical implants than metal. Younger people (under 50) are getting hip and knee replacements and living with them longer. Over time, some metal hip replacements have lead to metallosis. Metal shavings get into the blood stream and damage soft tissue.
Can the OrthoSensor be used to qualify progress in physical therapy? That information can help therapists customize routines that much more effective for recovery.
I agree with Nadine about the benefits of plastic in implants. There are some well publicized legal cases ongoing about metal-to-metal degradation problems in hip implants that have brought some of these issues to light.
One big area of concern with medical plastics is chemical compatibility and chemical resistance. Because equipment is constantly being wiped down with harsh chemicals in order to clean and sterilize, resistance to chemicals is a prime concern when designing medical equipment. It would be interesting to see if this polymer has any additional resistance properties over their previous product offerings.
This year, Design News is getting a head start on the Fourth of July celebration. In honor of our country and its legacy of engineering innovation -- in all of its forms -- we are taking you on an alphabetical tour through all 50 states to showcase interesting engineering breakthroughs and historically significant events.
Earlier this year paralyzed IndyCar drive Sam Schmidt did the seemingly impossible -- opening the qualifying rounds at Indy by driving a modified Corvette C7 Stingray around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
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