Bioabsorbable fixation in orthopaedic surgery and traumatology
Bioabsorbable internal fixation devices were introduced clinically in the treatment of fractures and osteotomies of the extremities at the Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Helsinki University, in 1984. Since November 5, 1984, a total of 3200 patients were managed using bone or ligament fixation devices made of self-reinforced (matrix and fibres of the same polymer) bioabsorbable alpha-hydroxy polyesters. The devices used included cylindrical rods, screws, tacks, plugs, arrows, and wires. The most common indication for the use of bioabsorbable implants was the displaced malleolar fracture of the ankle. Transphyseal fixation with small-diameter, mainly polyglycolide pins was used in children. The postoperative clinical course was uneventful in more than 90% of the patients. The complications included bacterial wound infection in 4% and failure of fixation in 4%. In one-fifth of the latter cases, however, re-operation was not necessary. The occurrence of non-infectious foreign-body reactions two to three months postoperatively has been observed in 2% of the patients operated in the last few years with polyglycolide implants but none of the patients managed with polylactide implants. This inflammatory tissue response often required aspiration with a needle but did not influence the functional or radiologic result of the treatment. Owing to the biodegradability of these internal fixation devices, implant removal procedures were avoided. This results in financial benefits and psychological advantages. Bioabsorbable implants can also be used in open fractures and infection operations.
Journal: Biomaterials - Volume 21, Issue 24, 15 December 2000, Pages 2607–2613