Body-degradable metals are not a new innovation; in fact, they’ve been in use for over a hundred years. So why is it such a big deal that a new $1.5 million grant by the National Science Foundation will now allow researchers included in a consortium of universities to develop medical implants made of dissolving metals? A press release from the University of Pittsburgh explains:
“The consortium seeks to design devices that can adapt to changes in a patient’s body and dissolve once healing has occurred, reducing the follow-up procedures and potential complications of major orthopedic, craniofacial, and cardiovascular procedures and sparing millions of patients worldwide added pain and medical expenses.”
If you’ve ever had a temporary medical implant inserted into your body, you know what a pain it is to eventually have it removed once healing is complete. You basically have to recover all over again after the second surgery. Now researchers at Pitt, as well as from other schools headed by North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, are working to minimize the lasting effects of leaning on those metal implants.
Imagine you have a steel screw inserted into your face after reconstructive surgery. Once your features have been restored and facial bones are repaired, the screw simply dissolves. Doctors would be able to select specific screws for various recovery times. They also wouldn’t have to worry about the screws dissolving too early if recovery takes longer than expected.