From the end of the last century to the beginning of the present, spinal implants used to be manufactured of metal alloys which include stainless steel, pure titanium and a blend of titanium-aluminium-vanadium. Recently, the field of spinal surgery has seen a lot of changes with the developments in the area of non-metalic biomaterials that has lead to the usage of PEEK and other composite materials. Biomaterails used in the field of orthopedic surgery can be divided under three heads – metals, ceramics and polymers. But, the latest developments are definitely path breakers.
- Titanium: Apart from steel, recently titanium metal is being used to make cages, hooks, plates, screws, bolts and other varieties of spinal implants. Unlike stainless steel, titanium helps in the betterment of CT and MRI imaging.
- Bone Graft: The bone used for grafting is either taken from the patient’s body or can be used from bone bank. Allograft or bone from bone bank is collected from the cadavers and is processed for the purpose of transplanting into patients. But, the problem is if the bone is taken from the pelvic area of the patient, going forward, they may start suffering from chronic pain.
- Bone Morphogenetic Proteins: BMP will be placed inside a collagen (protein) sponge or other implants made of ceramic and used as a replacement of bone in the areas where fusion is desired. The availability of Bone Morphogenetic Proteins will minimise the need for both autologous or allograft bone.
- Ceramic and carbon fiber: Carbon fiber used for spinal implants are radiolucent. It means that the implants made of this material will not show up on X-Ray. This allows better visibility of bone fusion.
If you are advised by your doctor for spinal implant surgery and wish to know about the materials in more details, you can always ask a neurologist online.