- © The Mineralogical Society Of America
The field of biomedical materials has grown rapidly over the past 20 years and offers solutions to repair defects, correct deformities, replace damaged tissue and provide therapy. This has contributed to the increase in the average lifetime of individuals in developed countries. The market value for biomaterials is of the order of billions of dollars per annum worldwide and is growing as new products offer improved performance or provide new solutions health problems. Apatites are playing a key role in biomedical implants.
In developing materials used for implantation consideration must be given to both the influence of the implanted material on the body, and how the body affects the integrity of the material. The body will treat implants as inert, bioactive, or resorbable materials. Generally “inert” materials will evoke a physiological response to form a fibrous capsule, thus, isolating the material from the body. Calcium phosphates fall into the categories of bioactive and resorbable materials. A bioactive material will dissolve slightly, but promote the formation of an apatite layer before interfacing directly with the tissue at the atomic level. Such an implant will provide good stabilization for materials that are subject to mechanical loading. A bioresorbable material will, however, dissolve and allow tissue to grow into any surface irregularities but may not necessarily interface directly with the material (Neo et al. 1992).
The first use of calcium phosphate as an implanted biomaterial provided accelerated bone healing in surgically created defects in rabbits (Albee and Morrison 1920). Interest in apatite specifically started in the 1960s and initial studies principally involved the synthesis and analysis of hydroxylapatites in an attempt to better understand biological apatites (Le Geros 1965, McConnell 1965, Nancollas and Mohan 1970, Selvig et al. 1970). Hydroxylapatite is a specific form of apatite with a chemical …