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Stainless steel wire in medical applications

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Stainless steel wires are increasingly present in medical applications which rely on their attractive combination of corrosion resistance, durability and mechanical properties.

The main domains of applications are primarily the increasingly sophisticated field of “medical devices” used in diagnosis, investigations and innovative surgical techniques such as laparoscopy, and the more traditional areas of implants as well as surgical miscellaneous parts.

Stainless steel wire can be in various presentations (round, flat or shaped wire) and forms (mesh, braided, straightened cut lengths, cables). Main grades used are 302, 304, 316L most often as the ESR-remelted grades 302 V, 304V, 316 LVM. Also used are grades 630 (17-4 PH) and 440C. Wire sizes are mostly in the smaller dimensions.

Hereafter a short summary of key modern uses in medical applications:

  • Vascular therapy: continuous improvements of medicine allow minimally invasive intervention through arteries and veins. Stainless steel wires are found in intra-arteria stents, angioplasty catheters, guide wires and diagnostic catheters, aneurysm clips, etc...
  • Orthopedics applications: this broad field covers trauma, reconstructive, spinal & sports medicine. Stainless wires can be found in fracture fixations, spinal devices, nails, bone pins and screws, cerclage cables, suture wire.
  • Endoscopic medical devices: this fast growing field targets efficiency, comfort through minimally invasive procedures. Strands and cables made of fine stainless steel wires are used for: biopsies, gallstone removal, support of colonoscopy, retrieval of foreign objects in airways, laparoscopic surgery...
  • Orthodontics: this specific field of applications often uses shaped stainless steel wires for arch wire, self-litigating brackets, springs. Both the aesthetic and the mechanical properties of stainless steel are at work there… Related field of “implant dentistry” also makes use of stainless steel wire.
  • Surgical and diverse applications: Stainless steel wire is often used for post-surgery staples, suture wire and needles, stylets. Another important field of use of stainless steel spring wire is the spring mechanisms of syringes, medical or self-injection systems for diabetes, allergic reactions. Stainless steel wire is thus an important item in the increasingly diversified and fast growing medical field, in surgery, implants and sophisticated devices.

Contributed by Philippe Maitrepierre – Doctor of Science (PhD) in Materials

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