Print this Page

The unique properties of Nitinol have provided the enabling technology for many groundbreaking applications in the medical and dental industries. These applications have included everything from surgical tools to permanent implants, including implants within the bloodstream.

Two particularly successful Nitinol medical devices are the Simon Nitinol Filter*(tm) and the Mitek(R) bone suture anchor. The Simon Nitinol Filter(tm) (SNF) is an umbrella shaped device deployed via the shape memory effect to entrap blood clots in the vena cava. The SNF was developed in the 1970s and since that time has been implanted successfully in hundreds of patients.

Mitek(R) suture anchors have revolutionized the field of orthopedic surgery by providing a secure, stable attachment for tendons, ligaments, and other soft tissue to bone. Consisting of a titanium or Nitinol body with two or more arcs of Nitinol wire, the Mitek Anchor is inserted through a small incision into a hole drilled into the bone. Since its introduction in 1989 for shoulder surgery, use of the Mitek Anchor has been expanded to include 25 orthopedic applications and one urological application.

The excellent biocompatibility, very high corrosion resistance, and excellent cytocompatibility of Nitinol has made these unique applications possible. The Nickel in Nitinol is chemically joined to the Titanium in a strong intermetallic bond, so the risk of reaction, even in patients with Nickel-sensitivity, is extremely low. Of course, the necessary regulatory approvals still must be received for each new application. For a more thorough review of the biocompatibility of Nitinol, please consult the references below.

  • Jorma Ryhanen, "Biocompatibility Evaluation of Nickel-Titanium Shape Memory Metal Alloy", Ph.D. Thesis, Oulu University, Finland, (1999), Available in Adobe Acrobat format online at: http://herkules.oulu.fi/isbn 9514252217/
  • Yoshiki Oshida and Shuichi Miyazaki, "Corrosion and Biocompatibility of Shape Memory Alloys", Corrosion Engineering, 40, (1991), pp. 1009-1025.
  • L. S. Castleman and S. M. Motzkin, "Biocompatibility of Nitinol", in Biocompatibility of Clinical Implant Materials, ed. by D. F. Williams, Vol. 1, (CRC Press, 1981), pp. 129-154.

* Simon Nitinol Filter is a registered trademark of Nitinol Medical Technologies, Inc.