I underwent hip replacement surgery over 16 years ago. My surgeon selected a porous titanium prosthetic due to my age. Younger patients and their more active lifestyles tend to be harder on their hips. The porous surface of my implant was supposed to facilitate a tighter fit inside the femur. During my recovery I experienced a crazy sensation up and down my thigh where my new prosthetic now resided. Imagine a 4th of July sparkler, lit and somehow burning cold instead of hot. Now imagine how it would feel like inside your thigh. The sensation prompted bizarre visions of my bone actually growing into the porous surface of my titanium prosthetic.
Over sixteen years later, I fear my artificial hip has begun to fail. I credit my fascination with 3D printing’s medical applications to my predicament. Not a week goes by that I don’t read a story about what scientists have recently done with the technology. It gives me immense hope for my eventual revision, and strong motivation to hold out as long as possible. I want to allow as much innovation to occur before I go under the knife, saw and drill again.
So here’s the latest story that gave me some awesome chill bumps…
Together with 3T RPD, scientists at the National University of Ireland, Galway’s Centre for Biomechanics Research, have developed OsteoAnchor technology, a new surface architecture for implants. Hundreds of tiny claws cover the surface of the prosthetic. After implantation the claws more securely grip the surrounding bone and also promote more in-growth of bone. Apparently those bizarre visions I had of my bone becoming one with my implant wasn’t far from the truth.
Testing of OsteoAnchor technology began way back in 2013 and proved a significant improvement over porous surface and plasma sprayed coatings. The new technology (only possible with 3D printing) recently received patents in both the US and the EU. Next up is commercialization and soon I’ll get to discuss this option with my orthopedic surgeon. YESSS!