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Everything You Need To Know About Orthopedic Implants

Science & technology has become so advanced that we have a solution to almost all health concerns, whether it is a disease or other health issues. If we talk about problems like fractures, then we can trust science like never before.

Technology has led to the development of orthopedic implants and they have undoubtedly given a boost to this medical sector. Here, in this post, we are going to discuss what orthopedic implants are, how they are used, and how they help heal fractures.

What Are Orthopedic Implants?

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Orthopedic implants are external devices or structures that are surgically placed in case of fractures. These implants are designed specifically according to the location of fracture or dislocation in our body.  For example, a surgical orthopedic implant used for the treatment of hip fracture will be different from the one used for humerus fracture. While on the other hand, the choice of the implant will also vary depending upon the purpose. What our last statement means is that the implants used for permanent placement will be different from the ones used for temporary placement.

Sometimes, the degree of fracture is not high, hence a little external support for a period of time can heal it naturally. In such cases, temporary orthopedic implants are used. Whereas, in severe conditions where natural healing of bone is not possible, permanent orthopedic implants are used. Let us have a look at temporary and permanent orthopedic implants in brief.

Permanent Orthopedic Implants

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As the name suggests, permanent orthopedic implants are those that once inserted will remain forever inside the patient. Such surgical implants include knee, hip, ankle, elbow, wrist, finger joints, and shoulder.

Temporary Orthopedic Implants

When we talk about temporary orthopedic implants, then they include pins, wires, plates, screws, and intramedullary nails. These implants are inserted for a specific time and are later removed after complete healing of the fracture. Temporary orthopedic implants are known to be used for fixing broken and fractured bones.

Now, what we have to understand is from which material(s) orthopedic surgical implants are manufactured. We will see this in the next section of our post, but before that, let us have a look at surgical implants that can be used as both permanent as well as temporary.

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Orthopedic Implants that can be used as both Temporary and Permanent Implants

The three most common types of orthopedic surgical implants that come under removable as well as non-removable categories include screws, plates, and prostheses. Let us discuss them individually:

Screws

It won’t be wrong to say that screws used for orthopedic surgeries are no different from the ones we use normally. The prime function of screws is to compress the bone to ensure its correct position for healing. They are available in different forms and sizes depending upon the need.

Plates

Orthopedic plates are metal structures that are used for holding bone fractures to allow proper healing. The functions of plates include controlling and neutralization of forces such as compression & bending. One thing that needs to be kept in mind while using plates is that they should be of appropriate size and must be able to hold fractured bone properly from both sides.

Prosthesis

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A prosthesis can be best defined as an artificial body part that is used as a replacement of an original part. The most common prostheses that are used by orthopedists are for knees and hips. This ensures full-range pain-free motion of patients and that too not in much time.

Before we wind up, let us see from which materials orthopedic implants are made and why.

What are Surgical Orthopedic Implants made of?

As you know, orthopedic implants are used internally in our body during orthopedic surgeries. Considering this, the material from which they are made must be non-reactive, chemically inert, and does not hinder the normal functioning of our body. Besides all this, it must also be strong, durable, and reliable. Taking all these parameters into consideration, orthopedic implants are manufactured using metals, polymers, and ceramics.

Metals

The most common metals that are used for the manufacturing of orthopedic implants include surgical-grade stainless steel, titanium, and cobalt-chromium. Titanium-based implants are considered the most reliable and long-lasting.

Polymers

The most widely used polymer during orthopedic implant is Polymethylmethacrylate. It is commonly known as bone cement and is used for implant fixation in orthopedic procedures.

Ceramics

Being biochemically inert, ceramics are being used in orthopedic implants for decades. Besides this, they are also known for their wear resistance. The most widely used ceramics for orthopedic implants are calcium phosphate ceramics. They are admired for their high biocompatibility. Zirconium oxide and silicon oxide are also used these days.

The Bottom Line

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Orthopedic implants are boon to the medical industry and they have made the life of people with bone fractures and other serious bone-related injuries easier. They are being used extensively in different parts of the world for the treatment of different kinds of fractures.

This industry has become so advanced that you’ll find thousands of trauma implants that have been designed specifically for different fracture types. Plus, the choice of implant used will also depend upon the seriousness of the condition and the injury site. It won’t be wrong to say that trauma implants have made life easier for people suffering from fractures. We cannot even imagine what the quality of life was when these orthopedic devices were not there. How difficult it would be for patients to manage after trauma and for doctors to fix the fracture effectively. Well, it’s all about the past and currently, we have many resources to even effectively manage severe conditions.

Our goal in creating this post was to make you aware of what orthopedic implants are and how they are used. We hope that this post would have been useful to you and it would have fulfilled your purpose of landing here.


Ricardo is a freelance writer specialized in politics. He is with foreignpolicyi.org from the beginning and helps it grow. Email: richardorland4[at]gmai.com