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Absorbable Materials

Dr. Ian H. Beiser's Podiatry Page

Dr. Beiser is a podiatrist serving patients in the Washington, DC, area

He is a partner in Foot and Ankle Specialists of the Mid-Atlantic, LLC,  a diverse group of foot and ankle specialists, dedicated to providing advanced and comprehensive foot and ankle care

1145 19th St., NW  Suite #605
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 833-9109

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Absorbable materials have been used in surgery for many years. The most common application of these materials has been as sutures ("Stitches"). The earliest materials used were naturally found substances such as collagen, also known as "gut" or "cat gut" which were obtained from the connective tissues of cattle (not cats as the name suggests). These materials have been largely replaced   by synthetic absorbable sutures since they became widely available in 1970. The first such suture available in the U.S.  was Dexon (polyglycolic acid) which is still a very popular product from Davis & Geck, Inc.  Other popular synthetic absorbable sutures are Vicryl (polylactic acid and polyglycolic acid) and PDS (polyparadioxanone), both from Ethicon, Inc. These products are broken down by the body within several weeks into water and other naturally occurring substances such as lactic acid. They have been shown to be extremely safe. In addition to their traditional use as sutures, these materials have also been modified to produce rigid pins capable of holding bone together while it heals following a fracture or surgical cut in the bone (osteotomy).

Common absorbable bone fixation products are Orthosorb pins (polyparadioxanone) from Johnson& Johnson and Biofix pins and screws (polyglycolic acid) from Bionx, Inc.   Orthosorb pins come as rods, 1.3mm diameter x 40mm long and 2.0mm diameter X 40mm long. Bionx pins are available in lengths of 10mm through 70mm and diameters of 1.1 mm through 4.5 mm. Bionx screws are available in diameters of 2.0mm, 2.7mm, 3.5mm and 4.5mm and lengths ranging from 25mm through 70mm. The orthosorb and Bionx materials have slightly different properties with regard to such characteristics as the rate of absorption. Orthosorb pins have been shown to be less reactive and to hold their strength longer than the Biofix products. Both products have shown to be very effective methods of stabilizing bone. The major advantage of the absorbable products over other methods of fixation such as metal pins and screws is the elimination of the need for a second surgical procedure to remove the device. They also allow for a progressive and gradual transfer of stress to the bone as the material is absorbed.


Ian H. Beiser, D.P.M., F.A.C.F.A.S, F.A.S.P.S.

Foot and Ankle Specialists of the Mid-Atlantic, LLC
1145 19th St., NW  Suite #605
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 833-9109

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