Lasers shine in implant project

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Lasers are being used to polish medical implants following a project funded by the German government.

Led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT, a consort of seven project partners of the MediSurf project addressed the task of reducing the time needed to process dental and blood-carrying implants while maintaining their high bio- and haemo-compatibility.

The surface quality of an implant is crucial. For example, bone implants require a porous structure so that cells can grow into them well. Other implants, however, need as smooth a surface as possible to keep bacteria from finding a hold on them and the surrounding tissue from being damaged. The MediSurf project made these kinds of implants the object of its research.

A main focus was to optimise the surface of the titanium ventricular assist system INCOR, made by the company Berlin Heart. The project aimed at reducing production time and, at the same time, guaranteeing high haemo-compatibility. This means the implant should leave blood corpuscles undamaged and corpuscles should be prevented from settling on it to the largest extent possible. Blot clots are prevented from forming, thus significantly reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

'We are able to reduce the micro-roughness to such an extent that the implant exhibits the best possible haemo-compatibility. However, we began with very little information on exactly what quality the surface had to have for this purpose,' said project leader Christian Nüsser from the Fraunhofer ILT. 'For this reason, we had to test various parameters to reach the desired result.'