For starters, we all know it’s adamantium that makes Wolverine invincible and perpetually rugged-looking. So the next time you’re operated on for something broken and they stick in some of this newfangled titanium foam, please don’t expect to have super powers, much less retractable claws.
That said, the ongoing TiFoam project at the labs of Fraunhofer—a German medical research firm—might just launch the next revolution in bone transplants. These days surgeons still use either metal rods or grafted bone to treat horrific injuries. But if Dr. Peter Quadbeck and his colleagues can perfect the new titanium foam they’re developing, this might remove the need for grafting permanently. Instead a patient will have the foam placed where the ruptured bone needs to heal and viola! It does the job much faster and better.
How does it work? The accompanying pic above reveals a structure that reminds us of corals. In real life the porous titanium lattice is supported by a polyurethane matrix and is much smaller. It’s placed where its design stimulates growth that adjusts to the natural flexibility and load-bearing strength of the affected bone.
Unfortunately, its application is still a long way off. When it becomes available in an operating theater near you however, expect to say bye-bye to those metal screws.
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