Release of nanoparticles from artificial hip joints examined
Every year thousands of people in Germany receive an artificial hip joint. The implants are intended to restore the function of the joint and to avoid further complaints if possible. However, material from the implants can migrate into the tissue in the long term and cause considerable discomfort.
A study with the participation of scientists from the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) examined which particles from the endoprosthesis can be detected in the tissue and what their consequences are. Using the example of a patient with a tantalum-containing hip joint, the research team led by Jutta Tentschert and Andreas Luch from BfR analyzed how the metal particles from hip prostheses spread in human tissue. The results of the study were published in the specialist magazine "Nanomedicine".
Released particles can lead to health problems
"Implants, also called endoprostheses, have become an integral part of modern medicine," emphasize the BfR experts. Damaged joints can be replaced with endoprostheses, which made life easier for many people. However, released particles from the implants can lead to medical problems. This also happened to the patient whose case the researchers analyzed for their study. The artificial hip joint had to be removed due to complications.
Metals and alloys detected in nanoparticulate form
In their investigations, the scientists were able to detect various metals and alloys in nanoparticulate form that had passed from the implant into the surrounding tissue. Using elemental analysis, the researchers determined “the identity and size of the particles tantalum, cobalt, titanium, chromium, vanadium, molybdenum and aluminum” and “in addition, the distribution in tissue was examined and evaluated,” according to the BfR announcement. The working group was honored for its study by the German Society for Endoprosthetics and the Endoprosthetics Foundation.
Outstanding contribution to applied nanotechnology research
The researchers hope that the knowledge about the interactions between implant, wear and corrosion products and the living human tissue will further improve the quality of endoprostheses and thus consumer health protection. The now award-winning study is an outstanding contribution to applied nanotechnology research, quotes BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel from the jury's reasoning.
Understand interactions better
In general, modern materials play a special role in implants and wear must be as low as possible, because the prostheses should remain in the body for a lifetime, the experts explain. According to the BfR researchers, the interactions between the implant and its wear and corrosion products with human tissue will have to be observed and monitored even more in the future in order to improve the safety of implants. (fp)