News / South Africa / Health

Nica
3 minute read
12 Sep 2019
7:30 am

Mending broken bones just got a lot easier

Nica

Magnezix technology involves replacing titanium implants with magnesium ones, which fuse to the bone.

Magnezix, an innovative technology that German Dr Utz Claassen of Syntellix is bringing to the world’s attention, could be the biggest disruptor in the surgical and orthopaedic industry in the past decade. This is because the product involves replacing titanium implants, used in surgical procedures such as bone breaks, with magnesium ones.

The range of Magnezix pins and screws that have replaced titanium with magnesium. Image: Supplied

But why is magnesium better? And why should this matter?

Simply put, titanium is a foreign metal, but magnesium is familiar to the human body.

In fact, the average daily dietary intake of magnesium is between 375 and 500mg. Magnesium is crucial for the metabolism and basic body functions.

Infographic: Costa Makola

There is no required daily intake in the case of titanium, said Claassen. The idea of using magnesium implants was not new, but Syntellix has perfected the concept and has begun successfully using Magnezix pins in surgical procedures.

Pins and screws used for surgical procedures use polylactic acid (PLA), a biodegradable material derived from biomass, titanium, or steel. Magnezix technology essentially combines the bioabsorability of PLA and the stability of titanium or steel, to create a material derived from the best of each material.

Image: Supplied

Magnezix has higher stability and elasticity than PLA, and unlike PLA, Magnezix does not require additional surgery to remove the pin or screw, since it is bioabsorbable. This means no hollow spaces are left after a pin is removed, as the pin fuses with bone tissue.

Image: Supplied

There are also no reports of Magnezix causing irritation, whereas this occurs in up to 30% of patients with PLA pins or screws. And the pin boasts anti-infectious properties, decreasing postoperative risks.

So, how could this be implemented in South Africa?

Claassen said it would be done by partnering with Ascendis Medical, a business unit of Ascendis Health. The medical branch is made up of four companies, one of which is Ortho-XACT, which sells Syntellix products. This partnership will, hopefully, allow magnesium pins to be made available for private healthcare in SA.

The implants have already reportedly made their way into the country and are being used by six government hospitals: Livingstone Hospital in Port Elizabeth; Frere Hospital in East London; Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg; Dr George Mukhari Hospital in Pretoria; and King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban.

The perks of using magnesium pins or screws in public hospitals include that patients do not need a second operation to remove the pin or screw. This, coupled with lower likelihood of infection, makes the lives of financially strained citizens, who have to travel long distances for medical attention, significantly easier.

Claassen is optimistic Syntellix products will positively impact one billion people within 20 years.

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