Globally, more than 1000 tonnes of titanium (Ti) is implanted into patients in the form of biomedical devices on an annual basis. Ti is perceived to be ‘biocompatible’ owing to the presence of a robust passive oxide film (approx. 4 nm thick) at the metal surface. However, surface deterioration can lead to the release of Ti ions, and particles can arise as the result of wear and/or corrosion processes. This surface deterioration can result in peri-implant inflammation, leading to the premature loss of the implanted device or the requirement for surgical revision. Soft tissues surrounding commercially pure cranial anchorage devices (bone-anchored hearing aid) were investigated using synchrotron X-ray micro-fluorescence spectroscopy and X-ray absorption near edge structure. Here, we present the first experimental evidence that minimal load-bearing Ti implants, which are not subjected to macroscopic wear processes, can release Ti debris into the surrounding soft tissue. As such debris has been shown to be pro-inflammatory, we propose that such distributions of Ti are likely to effect to the service life of the device.
- crevice corrosion
- microfocus spectroscopy