Bio-ceramics (alumina and zirconia based ceramics) are widely used as femoral heads in total hip replacements (THR) as an alternative to metal devices. Unfortunately, the orthopaedic community reports significant in-vivo failures.
The novel material developed by the Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology Research Center (CINN) is an alumina–zirconia nano-composite that features toughness values higher than 9 MPa.m1/2 and high resistance to crack propagation, due to a much higher stress intensity factor threshold (KI0) than that exhibited by the alumina-zirconia materials known so far. This combination of properties makes the material more reliable than currently-known ceramics and will allow for a prostheses lifetime of over 70 years, thus preventing the need for revision surgeries.
The patent, granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), has been licensed to the Spanish company Nanoker Research SL. Both the CINN and Nanoker are currently investigating the application of glass-based anti-bacterial coatings on ceramic implants in order to avoid the risk of surgical-site infections, which currently occur in about 1% of arthroplasty surgeries and lead to revision procedures associated with longer operating and hospitalization times, greater blood loss, more frequent complications and a higher total hospital cost when compared with primary arthroplasties or revisions due to aseptic loosening. “We expect the prosthetic industry to take advantage of these novel materials and bring them to the market within 3-5 years in order to improve patient quality of life” said Samuel Menéndez, CEO of Nanoker Research S.L.