Titanium implants for increased bone strength

Could titanium implants be used as support for the bones (Wolverine style) screwed directly on the surface of the bones. For example, I train kendo and brazilian jiu jitsu, do you guys think i would benefit from implanting custom fitted titanium parts on my shinbones and collarbones or maybe ribs, or would they come loose and just make things worse? Let me hear what you guys think about it.


  • edited December 2017

    -double posted due to computer problem-

  • Kendo and BJJ? That's an interesting combination.

    I do vaguely remember a Murray Thai guy being disqualified from comp for having bone plates on his tibia (shin bone), so at least there is a perceived advantage.

    However, I do want to mention that in orthopedics there's something called "stress shielding" - where the implants are too stiff for the bone and so they take up all the load, resulting bone resorption and implants becoming loose (hence why for some time back in the day CoCr implants don't last long - they are far stiffer than titanium, and titanium is already too stiff to offset the problem entirely!). People have worked a work around for a while, but I'm a bit off from the orthopedics field at the moment so I can't tell you how much improvements there has been since around 10 years ago (they were still doing just titanium implants and hydroxyapatite coating was still in the early stages).

  • This idea along with complete bone replacement are tricky subjects. A lot of people have a tendency to think of bones as nothing more than "structure" for our bodies but the reality is that having them intact and fully exposed to connective tissues and skeletal muscles surrounding them is quite important. A healthy skeletal system gives the body quicker recovery from injuries and a stronger immune system, and it's worth noting that the bones themselves can become significantly stronger by cortical remodeling, strength training, supplements, and of course drugs/peptides. A good training program with something like tri-boron and TB-500 would probably give you bones stronger than 99.9% of people out there.

    This also kind of connects to the subject at hand, here. I wonder if supplementing such implants with training/peptides to prevent deterioration of the bone would help. Of course on the other hand, you could also strengthen/enlarge the bones with plates screwed into them and that itself could cause problems.

    shrug Not really trying to say anything here just throwing out some things to chew on.

  • Well, complete bone replacement does exist: I vaguely remember seeing a picture of what can only be an entire femur being placed with an implant in a surgery theatre. So it's not something that is impossible. Normally we do not replace every bone in the body anyway (aside from that problem that you mentioned, replacing all those 203 odd bones in the body would be quite a challenge even for the best ortho surgeon!).

    As for the peptides to prevent bone deterioration, I think that might be one of the things people were looking into to stop stress shielding, but I'm not up to date with that area at the moment so yeah.

  • If I remember correctly bone is a piezoelectric material. I've often wondered if the increased stress on the bone, from impact/exercise, or lack of stress from an implant, is used to create electrical impulses to the nervous system strengthening or weakening the bone based on the bodies perceived stresses on it. This may be a bit of a rabbit hole, but I wonder if instead of implanting plates on your bones you implanted/inserted electrodes. My theory is that you could generate a low current in the bone itself and induce accelerated bone growth on your shins by tricking your nervous system into thinking it is experiencing more stress than it really is. May even be some medical applications for broken bones or osteoporosis. Would need a lot of research but it could be a neat topic.

  • Sweet topic! That would be neat to have reinforced bones! TSA would be a nightmare though haha!
    I wonder if you were to use a much softer but very durable material like uhmw polyethylene to absorb/distribute a blow if you would still have the negative side effects of shielding? Or maybe if you designed the structure of the plate to be a thin walled honeycomb you could have lateral rigidity for blows but longitudinal compressibility to prevent bone decay? If you do decide to attach some plates onto your bones post some pics! Definitely want to see it!

    The piezoelectric properties are neat but keep in mind they are reversible. What I mean is, if you mechanically deform a piece of quartz you get electricity, but if you apply electricity you get mechanical deformation. Not saying it couldn't work the way you proposed, but it may hurt like hell or even crack the bone if the power wasn't low enough. Cool idea though! If you do research it
    post it in the forum! I'd love to read it!

  • I did a little research and found this: https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2762253/ It is a scientific journal on "The science of electrical stimulation therapy for fracture healing".
    @UltraCentillion you might be able to use your titanium plates with a set of built-in cathodes near the screws and behind the plate. Periodically, you could attach an electrode to your skin nearby, insert a few insulated needles through your skin/muscle to make electrical contact with the cathodes, and plug in your plates to stimulate bone growth behind and around the plate.

    @Nova said:
    ...it may hurt like hell or even crack the bone if the power wasn't low enough...

    Still a valid concern.

    The article says something interesting, "[10] It has been shown that bone is formed under electronegative potentials and resorbed under electropositive potentials."
    Makes me wonder if you could electrically shape bone with any kind of precision. It would make the recovery time significantly shorter for facial surgeries (reshaping the jawline, or the base of the nose) and for dealing with growth abnormalities like bone spurs. You might not need to bolt the titanium plates onto your bones at all if you could grow the bone around/through it.

    Anyways, food for thought.


    Kuzyk, P. R., & Schemitsch, E. H. (2009). The science of electrical stimulation therapy for fracture healing. Indian Journal of Orthopaedics, 43(2), 127–131. http://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5413.50846

    [10] Streaming potentials in chemically modified bone.
    Otter M, Goheen S, Williams WS
    J Orthop Res. 1988; 6(3):346-59.

  • My brother fractured his collar bone years ago and has a titanium plate screwed on to it to this day. Having the plate there doesn't make his collar bone any more resilient, and actually has the opposite effect. The titanium provides some reinforcement, however, it leaves weak spots in the bone where the screws are and where the plate ends. The only way I can see around this would be if the plate extended the full length of the bone, and was bonded to it with some method other than direct screwing it into the bone. Actually accomplishing this degree of modification I believe is out of the means of anyone except a well trained surgeon.

  • A couple of things that needs to be mentioned here:

    1) While nerves can be influenced by electric fields, that does not necessarily mean that they generate electricity in the same way as wires or electrodes do. The physics in an action potential going through a neuron and electricity going through a wire are entirely different.

    2) Reading the linked paper above it seem to suggest to me that electrical stimulation accelerates bone growth. However, that does not mean stronger bones. In fact, we have a bone disease called Paget's disease of the bone where there's too much bone growth and, as a result paradoxically it actually WEAKENS bone and those people are prone to fractures.

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