Research Success Metal-free hip implants remove need for post-surgical interventions

Redakteur: Kathrin Schäfer

The innovative Endure hip implant made out of plastic and ceramic can be expected to prevent the need for premature subsequent medical interventions regarding artificial hips. Researchers from Fraunhofer IPA developed the metal-free hip implant within the scope of an international project.

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As part of the European Commission–sponsored project (the name Endure comes from “enhanced-durability resurfacing endoprosthesis”), an international team of researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA) in Stuttgart worked on developing the breakthrough implant. The implant’s innovation resides in its metal-free construction and its elasticity that is similar to that of bone.

Performance capability is ensured through a special high-tech material coupling: the acetabulum is made from carbon-fibre-reinforced PEEK, a high-strength, friction-resistant, biocompatible polymer composite material, and the femoral head from ceramic. In addition, a hydroxyapatite coating on the surface that interfaces with the bone makes sure the bone grows effectively into the surface structure of the implant.

Jasmin Hipp, an engineer at IPA, explains the benefits of Endure: “Cobalt-chrome implants have previously been very rigid. The introduction of force into the bone is not optimal, and may lead to abnormal bone adjustments. Thanks to the new material coupling, it has been possible to replicate the transfer of force via the PEEK acetabulum into the pelvic bone of the natural acetabulum. Additionally, no metal ions are released.”

The high friction resistance of the hip prosthesis was confirmed by Hipp and her team during initial testing. With the aid of a robot, the researchers simulated various motion sequences such as walking and climbing up and down stairs. A prototype of the implant was used for these experiments.

For further information:

Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung IPA

Stuttgart, Germany