How Titanium Surfaces May Improve Medical Implants

Updated on October 17, 2017

For many patients needing traditional medical implants like stents, tubing, and catheters, there is an increased risk for infection and blood clotting. This issue has perpetuated for decades, and engineers are beginning to develop other medical technologies that may provide a working solution. Specifically, engineers have offered the potential solution of using technologies with titanium surfaces that are repellent to blood for the benefit of the body’s response to receiving surgical and other medical implants.

Titanium is a well-known element used in medical technologies; titanium tubing and alloys present a reliable performance in many surgical procedures due to its strength, low weight, and resistance to corrosion. Since the use of titanium in surgical procedures is oftentimes successful, it makes sense that engineers are now beginning to test the substance to improve other medical technologies. In the future, using titanium may reduce the risk of blood clotting and infection after implanting certain medical devices.

Recent Study with a Potential Solution

Engineers at Colorado State University are currently at work on a solution to the problematic implications of certain medical implants, like catheters and stents, for patients. By growing a “superhemophobic” titanium surface, the engineers may have found a material that can be used to build future surgical implants that the body is less likely to reject.

This research has combined two disciplines; material science and biomedical engineering, to ensure that the results are a viable option for functioning medical technologies. By analyzing several variations of titanium surfaces, the researchers determined that fluorinated nanotubes ultimately provided the best protection against blood clots. At this stage, the research team will continue to examine other clotting factors and hope to eventually develop and test actual medical devices with titanium advances.

What Exactly Is a Superhemophobic Titanium Surface?

Superhemophobic surfaces are built to repel virtually any liquid, including blood. While this may seem counterintuitive at first, as the material is indeed “phobic” or repellant to blood, the researchers say that this process will spark bodily compatibility with foreign devices. The team made chemically-altered surfaces that provided barriers between the blood and the titanium. This led to low levels of platelet adhesion, which is a biological process leading to rejection of foreign material by the body and blood clotting.

Thus, the material effectively tricks the blood into “believing” there is no foreign material there at all, making it even more compatible with the blood than a “philic” (with affinity) material. Titanium is therefore a viable and innovative option to reduce the problematic interaction of the medically implanted foreign material and the blood. This may also reduce the need for blood-thinning medications and the risk of stents to cause obstructions or even heart attacks.

By working with titanium, medical implants like stents, tubing, and catheters may be drastically improved to reduce the risk for blood clotting and other infections for patients.

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