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A Natural Fix: Absorbable Textiles Improve Reconstruction from the Inside Out

What does this Mean for Orthopaedics?
Orthopaedic applications often require initial strength, meaning that biomedical textiles specially designed for such devices will usually employ a fiber with a longer absorption profile. In these cases, the textile itself lasts a longer time in the body and can provide strength to the affected area or application by replicating damaged tissue. These kinds of applications, such as artificial tendons or ligaments, generally rely on woven structures. For tendon repair, for example, a woven absorbable fabric can be inserted to act as a synthetic tendon and imitate the strength and flexibility of the damaged tissue, while at the same time acting as a platform that will allow the tendon to heal dynamically. As it provides the performance of real tissue with limited stretch and control of tempered movement, it also assists the body’s natural healing process by inducing the re-growth of new tendon tissue that will eventually take its place when it completely disintegrates. The result is a surgical repair site that has healed and is free of any residual textile materials.

The total cost of tendon and ligament injury has been estimated at $30 billion per year,1 and this number is expected to increase as the population ages. Synthetic replacements currently available are still limited, however, and building a functional shape that mirrors natural geometries has been a challenge. Shaping bio-absorbable fibers to resemble the human anatomy of tendons via tapering and other sophisticated processing techniques is proving to be a solution to this problem, and allows for precise dimensions and loadbearing performance characteristics to be built right into the design. The result is a new level of implant performance that not only delivers repair, but also helps generate regrowth in the same device.

Engineered to be Exact
Manufacturing of textiles must be a sophisticated and highly controlled process, because most absorbable fibers rely on hydrolysis to initiate the degradation of their crystalline structure. In order to ensure that the finished biomedical structure retains the most initial strength possible to meet device performance requirements, all processing must limit them fabric’s exposure to ambient humidity levels. In other words, manufacturing processes must be tightly sequenced, efficiently executed and quickly completed within a specific process plan. OEMs seeking to take advantage of regenerative options for orthopaedic repair need to ensure that they have a fully trained and experienced partner in place for fiber processing and textile development.

Slowly and steadily, biomedical textiles are garnering increasing attention from OEMs across all therapeutic sectors, especially orthopaedics. As the range of biomaterials proven for implant performance widens, developers are taking advantage of new ways to build implants that function like never before by inducing regrowth of native cells to help rebuild damaged tissue from the inside out. For applications like artificial tendons and ligaments, the possibilities are only beginning to emerge, and OEMs can work to leverage absorbable options now for next-generation devices.

1 Jimin Chen, Jiake Zu, Allan Wang, Minghao Zheng. “Scaffolds for tendon and ligament repair: review of the efficacy of commercial products.” Expert Review of Medical Devices 6(1), 61-73 (2009).

Todd Blair, Director of Sales & Marketing at Biomedical Structures (BMS), has 17 years of experience in business development, commercial, technical and program management, 11 of which have been in life sciences. At BMS, he has led new business development across all technology platforms for surgical and implantable fabrics. He may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Biomedical Structures


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