University of Oulu

Biocompatibility and biomechanical aspects of Nitinol shape memory metal implants

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Author: Kujala, Sauli1,2
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgery
2University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2003
Publish Date: 2003-11-07
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, for public discussion in the Auditorium 1 of the University Hospital of Oulu, on November 7th, 2003, at 12 noon.
Reviewer: Docent Jukka I. Salonen
Docent Jarkko Vasenius


Nickel-titanium shape memory metal Nitinol (NiTi) is a new kind of implant material, which provides a possibility to prepare functional implants activated at body temperature and withstands kinking better than conventional metals. Applications utilizing these unique properties are a target of active research interest. Host reactions to NiTi and to the forces created by functional implants should also be studied.

A functional NiTi intramedullary nail, which causes a bending force on the bone, was developed for correcting bone deformities. In the present studies, the action of the device was inverted to induce a bone deformity instead of correcting one, in order to test the hypothesis that bone modelling can be controlled using such functional nail. Implanting the nail into the medullary cavity of rat femur for twelve weeks caused bowing of the bone, retardation of its longitudinal growth, and thickening of the bone and the cortex. In another study the effects of functional and straight nails were compared. Bowing of the bone and significant overall thickening of the bone and the cortex were associated only with the functional nail, while the straight nail induced only minor thickening of the bone. Retardation of longitudinal growth was seen in both groups, and this may have been caused by perforating the distal epiphyseal plate during the nailing. Finite element model of the bone-nail combination was also created.

Porous NiTi was studied as a bone graft substitute by filling a bone defect in the distal femoral metaphysis of a rat bone with porous NiTi implants of different porosities. After 30 weeks, porosity of 66.1% (mean pore size (MPS) 259μm) showed the best bone-implant contact (51%). However, porosity of 46.6% (MPS 505μm) with 39% bone-implant contact was not significantly inferior in this respect and showed a significantly lower incidence of fibrosis within the implant and thus seemed to be the best choice for a bone graft substitute, out of the porosities tested here. The porosity of 59.2% (MPS 272μm) showed lower contact values.

NiTi tendon suture material was studied by implanting NiTi sutures into rabbit tendon and subcutaneous tissues for two, six, and twelve weeks. NiTi proved to be stronger than polyester, which served as control material. The encapsulating membrane was minimal with both materials, suggesting good biocompatibility in tendon tissue. The implantation did not affect the strength properties of either material.

On the basis of the present studies, NiTi provides a possibility to develop new kinds of implants for correcting bone deformities, for filling bone defects in weight-bearing locations and a good candidate for a tendon suture material.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. D, Medica
ISSN-E: 1796-2234
ISBN: 951-42-7124-6
ISBN Print: 951-42-7123-8
Issue: 748
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2003. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.