We had the pleasure of attending the lecture that was sponsored by Sean Fisher of Zimmer Corporation. The two featured speakers were Gregg Stebbins of Zimmer Trabecular Metal Technologies and Joanna Dorgan of Zimmer Dental.
The lecture started with Mr. Stebbins talking about the metal Tantalum, which is the material that is behind their Zimmer Trabecular Metal Technology. It is a porous biomaterial. Originally, it was utilized by NASA in an effort to promote flying objects from getting into jet engines. It was then owned by a company called Ultramet. Ultramet was unsuccessful in creating this porous material for that specific utilization. In their research for other models to use Trabecular Metal in, they came across a biological model. The microstructure of Trabecular Metal is similar to coral. There was significant research being done on utilization of coral as a allographic material and he felt there might be a place for Trabecular Metal to be used as an allograft. There are 250 clinical papers backing up the success of this material and 15 years of proven utilization in orthopedic surgery, particularly in hip socket and joint restoration.
The three things that make it a superior metal are the structure is similar to bone, in the function and physiology that it maintains. It is a 99.9% pure metal. It is not an alloy. Tantalum is #73 on the periodic table and has a periodic weight of 180.95. It is inert, noncorrosive to alloys, and when heated forms a 440 mcg average pore size dodecahedron that allows bone formation in the areas. They coined this osseoincorporation, which is equal to bone ingrowth plus the addition of bone ongrowth, and it takes approximately 14 days for this to take effect. It is a difficult procedure to make, done under high heat using a carbon core block that has been treated in a Tantalum gas chamber that deposits a fine layer of the Tantalum and takes 2-1/2 weeks for the material to adhere and approximately 6 weeks beyond that for fabrication of a dental implant.
The dental implant that has been created was talked about by Joanna Dorgan of Zimmer Dental, the product brand manager. It is very similar to their Tapered Screw-Vent implants and it uses the press-fit internal connection that is common to all Tapered Screw-Vent products. It has a trabecular metal band, a titanium upper, and a one piece welded at the apex of titanium. The prosthetics are all common to a cross platform of Tapered Screw-Vent implants. It comes in lengths of 10, 11.5 and 13 mm, and widths of 3.7, 4.1, 4.7 and 6 mm. The advantage to the product is it has a final loading date of 2 weeks after insertion, which is twice as fast as the next competitor and about four times as fast as most other dental implant systems. The drill sets used to place this are the exact same drill sets that we would consistently see with the Tapered Screw-Vent system from Zimmer Dental. So it has a very high insertion torque and a higher surface area than the other implant models, thus giving it fine and rapid initial stability.