Only few new materials have been successfully introduced in the recent decades in orthopaedics and neurosurgery beside austenitic stainless steels or high strength titanium alloys. While new metallic alloys (NiTi, TiMo, TiZr, Ta) have been applied by few companies, polyaryletherketones homopolymers PEEK and PEKK have been selected for many new medical devices for the spine surgery and other cranio-maxillofacial indications, either for brand new products or to replace existing metallic implants (cages, pedicle screws, cranial plates). MRI compatibility and lower stiffness are two advantages of the non-filled polymers that supported the material introduction. More recently implants made of reinforced resin (PEEK) with short or long fibres have been developed and introduced on the market. However for both filled and non-filled materials, a secondary complete osseointegration through bone apposition cannot be achieved, as a thin layer of fibrous tissue is first developed on the material surface. Resulting potential instability of the implant is indeed a strong drawback for the material that prevents its wider use in orthopaedic surgery. This is the reason why requirement for Titanium coating on PEEK has been recognized pretty early.
Thanks to an extensive know how in osseointegrative coatings on medical devices, Medicoat has extended its Medipure ™ titanium coating technology by vacuum plasma spray (VPS) to organic substrates like PEEK, PEKK, CFR PEEK and long-fibre reinforced materials, and applied it to several spline implants like cervical and lumbar cages, pedicle screws and cranial plates. The well-integrating Titanium surfaces along with increased surface area of the rough coating improve the poor osseintegration of PEEK-based medical devices. Using cutting edge plasma spray technology, Medicoat is able to fully coat PEEK or PEKK implants with complex geometries like fenestrated open structures, promoting osseointegration not only on flat bone contacting surfaces but within the structure too, supporting bone growth through the entire implant.
Recently CE marked and FDA approved PEEK medical devices coated by Medicoat will soon be launched on their respective markets.
Cyril Voisard, Head of Business Development