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The Importance Of Titanium In Medical Applications

Mar 05, 2018

The Importance of Titanium in Medical Applications

titanium medical implants.jpg

Metal being used in biomedical applications consists of some very specific qualities. Any time foreign material is introduced into the human body, it can create potential health risks later on. The metal in question, then, cannot be toxic in any way, must have good strength to weight ratios, and display high corrosion resistance. Titanium fits all these qualifications, which is why it is the most common metal used in biomedical and dental applications.


Medical implants, in particular, must be reliable and strong – able to last for years – because removal or replacement down the road can cause even more problems for the patient. The goal is to use materials that will last on the first try, so that the body will accept the new addition and the patient can, ideally, forget that it’s there.


What Makes Titanium Ideal for Medical Applications?

Titanium is a completely inert metal and immune to the types of body fluids that could cause corrosion on the implants. It is generally considered to be wholly bio-compatible. Titanium offers more than just corrosion resistance, though, and includes other important characteristics, such as:


 Low electronic conductivity 

 Predictable thermodynamic state

 Low ion-formation tendency

 High strength to weigh ratio

 Fracture resistant

 Tensile strength ratio

The most important characteristic, though, is simple biocompatibility. Titanium’s high compatibility with the body is a result of the oxides that form on the surface. This is more common on commercially pure titanium, but it can appear on the alloys as well. This oxide layer is inert and only slightly negatively charged at physiological pH.


This means that osseointegration (the ability of bone to connect with the implant) is very high and human or animal cells can more easily attach and proliferate on the surface.


Commercially Pure or Alloyed Titanium? 

Commercially pure titanium is generally considered the best biocompatible metal, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best choice for every application. In some applications, an alloy may be a better choice. However, some alloys could release vanadium and aluminum into the body, which could be toxic, so the types of alloys are limited to those that won’t create that problem. This includes:

 Ti-6Al-7Nb 

 Ti-13Nb-13Zr

 Ti-12Mo-6Zr

 Ti-6Al-4V ELI


  


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