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Materials used in biomedical implants for procedures like knee and hip replacements traditionally include metals like titanium, cobalt-chromium alloys, or cobalt mixed metals with a plastic (polyethylene) socket. Over time, the alloy can wear the socket surface, which may result in the patient requiring replacement surgery.
Implants using zirconia are initially forged out of a special zirconium alloy. The alloy is then heat-treated to cause oxidization that transforms the metallic Zr-2.5NB alloy surface into a stable, durable, low-friction ceramic (zirconia) outer layer. The result is an implant that is:
By combining the desirable characteristics of alternative materials used in the manufacture of biomedical implants, the use of a zirconia surface creates an implant with superior performance and durability.
When considering the use of zirconia for medical use, safety of the material is paramount. In terms of device deterioration, biomedical implants using oxidized zirconium alloy are durable, strong and wear resistant. This makes them a reliable option than more brittle pure ceramic alternatives, as well as longer lasting than other metal alternatives.
With an ever-ageing population, the number of people needing hip and knee replacements is increasing. They are also doing more, living longer and expecting more than ever before.
Oxidized zirconium alloy biomedical implants really do have the power to change lives. Their successful use can lead to recipients experiencing pain-free movement and being able to return to their active and fulfilling lives including activities such as walking or cycling. In turn, leading to better mental well-being, overall physical health and quality of life.
To find out more about how zircon is used, check out Zircon applications - What is Zircon used for?