Silicone spacers have been in use as replacement joints in the human hand for over 30 years. Since they were first used there has been a number of designs all of which have had problems with fracture. This may be due to a defect in the material caused during implantation, or by bony intrusions within the arthritic hand after implantation. The aim of this research was to investigate the effect of the environment on the mechanical properties of medical grade silicones used for human implantation. The materials were subjected to static tensile testing after various forms of ageing. The environmental conditions included temperatures of 37 and 80°C and the environments of Ringer's solution, distilled water, and air. The environmental conditions employed resulted in reduced mechanical strength with ageing time of the silicones. This research supports the view that failure of silicone implants in the hand could be partly attributed to the effects of environmental ageing of the material.
- mechanical properties