Titanium Bone Screws: An Overview of Benefits and Disadvantages

As baby boomer demographic is rising and healthcare sector is influencing people to lead more active lives, there are continuous innovative developments in the medical industry. Bone screw system is one such development that helps in fixing a fracture of bone with screws made of biomaterials that are compatible to the human body.

Over the years, titanium has become a fundamental material in medical devices including bone screw systems. This metal and its alloys possess certain beneficial properties that make it suitable for developing bone screws. Common types of titanium used in bone screw system are Titanium 6AL4V and 6AL4V ELI – the alloys made of 6% Aluminum and 4% Vanadium.

Benefits of Titanium in Bone Screw System

Titanium is known for its excellent corrosion resistance and high strength-to-weight ratio. It is a metal of choice in medical field due to non-toxic quality and prevention of corrosion by body fluids. Titanium bone screws are also osseointegrated i.e. it allows the integration of natural bone and tissue with artificial implants.

They are long-lasting, durable, and when fixed in the body, the screws can last up to 20 years. Another important property of titanium is non-ferromagnetism which enables the patient with such bone screws to have no complications in MRI and NMRI tests. Moreover, titanium implants imparts more flexibility and elasticity than natural human bone. Titanium bone screws have a very high solidity, biocompatibility, and less reflecting than steel. Apart from the innate ability to join a human bone, titanium bone screws are cost effective, strong, lightweight, and have long range of availability, and thereby are in great demand in the field of medicine.

Owing to their several advantages, titanium and Ti-based alloys are recently gaining popularity in the bone screw system market. It accounts a significant share of around 45.1% in 2017 and is expected to rise in the next decade. As compared to stainless steel, titanium is stronger and has large resistance to repeated loads. It can not only withstand high strain during internal fixation but also controls the amount of stress put on the bone structures.

Disadvantages of Titanium Bone Screws

When exposed to hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen, titanium gets easily contaminated which influence corrosion process. It does not resorb over time which causes distortion in diagnostic images making it difficult to visualize the surrounding tissues. As these screws are difficult to remove, they require second surgery for removal. They may also reduce bone density in the surrounding area.

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