Polyurethane in orthopedics: better comfort and biocompatibility

The use of polyurethane in medical technology allows innovations that improve people's quality of life, as well as significant cost savings. Its durability and quality as well as its good acceptance by the human body make polyurethane a key material for the design of orthopedic prostheses, but also for surgical instruments, heart valves, surgical tissues or wound dressings.

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What are the most used materials in orthopedics?

Biocompatibility is the key criterion when choosing orthopedic materials.

Rigid or flexible materials are used depending on the function of the element to be created. Ortochoc, polyethylene, polypropylene, transpet, surlyn, thermoflex and thermoplastic are used for thermoforming and materials such as resins, polyvinyl acetate, carbon fabrics and polyurethane foams, for orthoses. Leathers, silicone and textiles are the most suitable options for the lining.

Polymeric materials offer many possibilities. Biocompatible polymers for orthopedics that are applied in reconstructive processes allow better stability and repair of the bone, even allowing the delivery of antibiotics. Degradable polymers offer even better mechanical properties, and are very affordable. Flexible plastics include soft polyethylenes, PVA film, natural rubber or injected liquid silicone. The latter is used above all for orthopedics of the foot due to its great flexibility, resistance, hydrophobic character, resistance to deformation and traction, softness to the touch and durability. They are used in insoles for greater comfort, to cushion the impact or to correct incorrect footprints.

On the other hand, elastomers such as polyisoprene or natural rubber (impractical because it drips and sticks when heated, becoming brittle when cooled), polybutadiene, polyisobutylene and polyurethane, are flexible and can be stretched, recovering their original shape without break.

 

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Advantages of polyurethane in orthopedics

The polyurethane used in orthopedics is characterized by having a soft touch and a very good surface appearance. In addition, it can be easily compressed at room temperature, it is resistant to breakage and has great durability. Using polyurethane in orthopedics not only reduces costs, it also improves the experience of patients as it is a material that is very well accepted by the human body.

Phase-change materials (PCM) such as polyurethane promote thermal comfort. They help fight heat loss, absorbing and releasing it, which is why they are used so much in textiles. In addition, they are sustainable, inexpensive, and have no effect on people's health.

 

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Orthopedic insoles with polyurethane

The making of templates is a very rigorous and personalized task, since it must meet the needs of each individual, adapting to their personal case, their foot structure, pathologies or problems. The purpose for which this product is requested must also be taken into account, that is, if it will be used for day-to-day needs, work, sport, etc. For each need, there will be a different type of template, made with the appropriate materials.

The insoles made with polyurethane are characterized by providing high shock absorption capacity, great comfort and breathability. They are made of a foamy material with elastic memory, and their design allows greater contact with the arch and heel, which favors relief. That is why they are recommended mainly for sports, since they can minimize specific discomfort and avoid injuries.

 

Polyurethane prosthesis

Prosthesis users often encounter problems such as the impact of the prosthesis on the limb, and even lacerations on the skin in contact with it. The use of elastomer and polyurethane gel is an alternative that reduces friction and improves the comfort of the prosthesis.

Polyurethane is also a material increasingly used for breast prostheses, facing frequent problems such as capsular contracture, which sometimes requires an intervention to correct it. To solve this situation, new prostheses covered by a thin layer of polyurethane are implanted.

 

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