Researchers Look to Polyurethane to Heal Bone Fractures
According to a recent study, hip fractures are on the rise in much of Asia. While on the surface this may seem like a gloomy statistic, it is actually indicative of a positive trend. Life expectancy around the world is increasing, thanks in large part to breakthroughs in health science and technology. The global standard of living is also improving with more people than ever before having access to nutritious foods, clean drinking water and medical care.
However, as life expectancy around the world increases, science must seek out new and innovative solutions to the health-related issues that come along with advanced age — for example, hip fractures. One such medical breakthrough that may soon be implemented in human patients is the use of polyurethane as an agent for repairing bone fractures.
By combining a polyurethane-based memory foam with hydroxyapatite, the principal mineral component of bone tissue, researchers have successfully created a self-fitting bone scaffold. Studies have found the compound can be implanted at the site of needed bone regeneration, speeding and enhancing the recovery process.
To begin, the polyurethane compound is frozen and shrunk down. Next, a team of doctors implants it at the site of the patient’s injury. As the compound reaches the body’s temperature, it begins to expand, and as it does so, it fills in the bone defect.
The polyurethane and hydroxyapatite compound is uniquely similar to the makeup of an inner layer of bone. Once fully expanded, it forms a highly porous structure that allows for easy cell migration and the formation of new tissues.
The operation is minimally invasive and has the potential to be performed as an outpatient procedure, negating the need for hospital stays and sharply reducing the risk of infection.
While the new bone-scaffolding procedure is not yet approved for humans, medical breakthroughs like this certainly have potential to play a considerable role in helping people live better, as well as longer, lives.