There are millions of medical devices that include components made from PEEK. This usage has grown tremendously in the past fifteen years and is still evolving. In this post, we are going to look at typical applications for PEEK in the medical device industry, including both implantable devices and non-implantable devices.
#1 PEEK in Spinal Applications
A stiffness comparable to that of human bone, radiolucent properties, and reduced stress shielding are just a few of the features that make PEEK an excellent choice for spinal applications.
Spinal applications of PEEK include:
- minimally invasive spinal implants
- disc arthroplasty,
- anterior cervical plates,
- dynamic stabilization and motion preservation
- interspinous spaces
- posterior spine stabilization rods
#2 PEEK in Orthopedic Applications
Arthroplasty and arthroscopy have made extensive use of PEEK for several years, including knee and shoulder arthroscopy along with knee and hip arthroplasty. The implementation of PEEK in hip cups has been especially useful. PEEK works very well for knotless suture anchors in shoulder arthroscopy. Tibial screw anchors and sheaths made of PEEK provide excellent strength and far less failure.
Benefits of PEEK for orthopedic applications include:
- improved stability
- significantly better wear performance
- and less need for revision
#3 PEEK in Trauma Applications
PEEK is also used in bone trauma applications such as fracture fixation plates and intramedullary (fracture fixation) nails.
The usage of PEEK in trauma applications results in outcomes such as:
- improved healing rates
- better pain relief
- more straightforward MRI and CT imaging when compared to their metal counterparts
#4 PEEK in Dental Applications
PEEK is also used in precision, customized dentures and prosthetics that are an alternative to traditional metal dentures. They have been found to be far more comfortable, easier to tailor to patient needs and an excellent fit for the modern CAM/CAD approach to dental prosthetics.
#5 PEEK in Non-Implantable Devices
Not all PEEK applications in the medical industry are for implantable devices. PEEK can be found in pumps, pistons, fluid transfer applications, and valves. PEEK seals and bearings are well established for use in critical medical and pharmaceutical applications such as dialysis, equipment, blood pumps, infusion pumps, reusable medical instruments, medical device fixtures, or tissue cutting tools.
In applications such as this, PEEK medical devices offer superior fatigue properties and low moisture absorption, which is critical in implantable devices. PEEK components are also more compatible with diagnostic imaging with no artifacts. Some grades of PEEK are radiolucent. Through fiber reinforcement, mechanical properties such as stiffness can be customized to meet application needs. It is possible to achieve a stiffness that approximates human bone using PEEK. Biocompatibility and biostability of load-bearing medical implants is another critical area in which PEEK excels. PEEK can also be manufactured using many different methods.
PEEK is used in many different areas of the medical industry, from implantable devices that have to be both strong and biocompatible to reusable medical instruments that have to be sterilized repeatedly using harsh processes such as autoclaving. PEEK is an good choice for medical applications for numerous reasons, including its excellent fatigue/wear properties, high strength-to-weight ratio, and biocompatibility.
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