The air around us is filled with sounds. Be it a catchy song or a ringing phone, these sounds must journey through our ears unhindered for us to perceive them. When this passage is interrupted in the middle or outer ear, conductive hearing loss arises. Treatment involves implanting a hearing aid into the skull. Occasionally these implants fail, particularly in patients with brittle bone disease or those taking corticosteroids. Using lasers to make the implant surface more rugged, at a microscopic level, could improve implant stability. Researchers investigated the effects of laser-modified implants in rabbits. Compared to standard machined implants, laser-modified implants were better anchored to the bone. Electron microscopy revealed enhanced bonding of the bone to the implant, signalled by protrusions from bone cells spreading out across the contours of the implant (pictured). Laser modification therefore looks set to lend a helping hand to potentially unstable implants.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.