What Are the Components of Orthopedic Implants?

Orthopedic implants are a modern miracle. They can replace body parts that are damaged beyond repair, or they can provide support for a part that still has the ability to mend itself.

Implants used in orthopedic procedures involve a number of components. Most of them are constructed from a surgical-grade steel, such as ASTM F899. Here are a few of the ones most commonly used in reconstructive and repair procedures.

1. Prostheses

A prosthesis is a manmade device intended to replace a body part. Orthopedic prostheses largely consist of replacements for joints that have been damaged beyond repair due to arthritis. There are prostheses available to replace most of the major joints in the upper and lower extremities, but the most common joint replacements take place at the hips, knees, and shoulders.

2. Plates

Whereas a prosthesis is used to replace a body part, a plate is usually used to repair a damaged part that still has at least some healing ability. Plates are typically used to repair bone fractures. Sometimes a plate can be removed after the bone has healed, while other plates must remain in the body for the rest of the patient’s life. Plating has been used in orthopedic procedures for over 100 years, with the first such procedure taking place in 1886.

3. Screws

Screws are used to attach plates or prostheses to the bone. They are also sometimes placed directly into the bone itself to repair a fracture. If this is the case, they usually remain in the bone forever unless they cause the patient problems or symptoms in the future. To the layperson’s eye, surgical screws appear very similar to the screws one could buy at a hardware store. They even come in Phillips or flathead varieties.

Metal implants are used most commonly because of their strength and durability. However, some people require orthopedic implants made of different materials due to allergies to metal that could cause adverse reactions.