To design a replacement artificial joint, several necessary steps need to be considered. The first step would be to identify the anatomy of a joint which includes articulating bone tissue, surrounding tendons/ligaments, and muscles that support joint movement. Material properties of the joint being replaced as well as any neighboring tissues need to be characterized, which will help determine the materials that will be needed to synthesize a replacement. The shape and size of the joint will also need to be modeled depending on the patient that will receive the artificial joint. Shape will determine how the joint moves, relating to important parameters regarding degrees of freedom, young’s modulus, and other functional mechanical properties.
Joint replacements have seen considerable progress in the past two decades as replacement materials have improved in biocompatibility, quality, and function. For example, PyroCarbon (trademark pyrolytic carbon) demonstrates minimal wear when in contact with cortical bone, a key functional characteristic of an implantable replacement . Pyrolytic carbons need to be able to form a bond with naturally existing bone and tissue to be a valid candidate for use as a biomaterial. The microporous structure of pyrolytic carbon allows it to bond and fixate to bone without cementation. This fixation is progressed via bone apposition and, without cementation even, shows to be compatible with bone and joint cartilage . Joint replacements continue to require accelerating research in the field of medical devices as the eventual goal as a solution is for joint replacements to restore complete function of natural joints.
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