Did you know that there are over 6 million bone fractures every year in the United States? These fractures range from trauma, birth defects, sports injuries and osteoporosis. With an increasingly aging population, the rise of osteoporosis related fracture is projected to increase in upcoming years, and as a result, more focus has been placed on fracture treatment in the bone and tissue-engineering field.
Typically for fractures, metal plates and screws are used to stabilize bone fragments during healing. These plates and screws are usually made from permanent metals such as titanium, a metal known for its strength and compatible nature with living tissue. However, there has been found a strong association between these devices and long-term complications that, more often than not, require their removal. These complications can range from pain and tissue irritation to infection, bone re-fracture or possibly bone death and exposure.
Due to such complications, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Dental Medicine created a study into the possibility of using devices made of biodegradable magnesium alloys. The alloys consist of magnesium and other metals that decompose into simpler compounds over time. These plates and screws would not only facilitate the healing of the fractures but also eliminate the need for possible device removal. Results from their study showed that these alloy plates did not inhibit fracture healing but actually enhanced it!
For more information read the complete study findings in the February 2015 issue of The Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, titled “Fracture Healing Using Degradable Magnesium Fixation Plates and Screws”.