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PEEK biomaterials in trauma, orthopedic, and spinal implants.

This review article synthesizes the extensive polymer science literature as it relates to structure, mechanical properties, and chemical resistance of PAEK biomaterials. With this foundation, one can more readily appreciate why this family of polymers will be inherently strong, inert, and biocompatible. PEEK has had the greatest clinical impact in the field of spine implant design, and PEEK is now broadly accepted as a radiolucent alternative to metallic biomaterials in the spine community. For mature fields, such as total joint replacements and fracture fixation implants, radiolucency is an attractive but not necessarily critical material feature.

The wear properties of CFR-PEEK-OPTIMA articulating against ceramic assessed on a multidirectional pin-on-plate machine

Tribologists from Durham University, England have performed tests on a multidirectional pin-on-plate machine to determine the wear of both pitch and polyacrylonitrile (PAN)-based carbon fibre-polyetheretherketone (CFR-PEEK-OPTIMA) pins articulating against both BioLox Delta and BioLox Forte plates (ceramic materials). Although all four material combinations gave similar low wear with no statistically significant difference (p > 0.25), the lowest average total wear of these pin-on-plate tests was provided by CFR-PEEK-OPTIMA pitch pins versus BioLox Forte plates.

Polyetheretherketone as a biomaterial for spinal applications

Researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin have evaluated a radiolucent polyetheretherketone (PEEK)-threaded interbody fusion device packed with autograft or rhBMP-2 on an absorbable collagen sponge in 13 sheep at 6 months. Only mild chronic inflammation consisting of a few macrophages was observed in peri-implant tissues. Based on these results, the polymeric biomaterial PEEK may be a useful biomaterial for interbody fusion cages due to the polymer's increased radiolucency and decreased stiffness.

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