According to experts, rationally fabricated scaffolds with complex porous structures have a several orders of magnitude larger surface area than monolithic biomaterials. Thus, as the implant area increases, the area that bacteria can infest also grows. In this case, the probability of deterioration of the patient's condition increases significantly, which is confirmed by the observations of microbiologists.
This may cause a bacterial biofilm to form on the implant, causing life-threatening complications, for example, such as sepsis.
The results of the study were published in the journal Applied Surface Science. As part of the research process, scientists have evaluated the activity of pathogenic Staphylococcus aureus cells, which reduce the efficiency of surgical implants, on 3D-printed porous titanium alloy matrices (scaffolds) coated with silver and calcium phosphate.
“The results have shown that the scaffolds coated with silver and calcium-phosphate nanoparticles in a certain concentration hindered bacterial growth”, a senior researcher at the Physical Materials Science and Composite Materials Centre of the TPU Research School of Chemical and Applied Biomedical Sciences, Maria Surmeneva, said.
Scientists have noted that at the moment, there are no implants in the domestic medical market made to fit the patient’s size.
“A standard graft may cause discomfort for the patient, for example, when walking. It is also an additional risk on the operating table”, Maria Surmeneva said.
Surmeneva explained that during the installation of a normal bone graft substitute, it is necessary to “adjust” it to the patient's size – to remove unnecessary elements (cut the length of the wires, saw and polish the cuts). This increases the risk of metal particles entering the body, which can lead to complications. Customised implants will help reduce the likelihood of infection during surgery and reduce the duration of the operation.
The authors of the study believe that the method of surface modification with silver and calcium phosphate may be of interest to physicians and engineers, as there are no complete analogues of this research.
Sweden is particularly interested in the Tomsk scientists’ research. The equipment of foreign colleagues and the experience of Russian scientists together can solve a common problem: the creation of implants tailored for the patient and improve their surface properties using 3D technologies.
TPU scientists are currently working on the development of new low modulus alloy porous scaffolds. In terms of physical and mechanical properties, they are more similar to bone tissue, so they have advantages over other metals used in implantology. Moreover, the authors of the study continue to search for new ways of surface processing and modification, creating composites with a maximum spectrum of biocompatible properties.