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Plasma Irradiation Promotes Faster Bone Healing

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 17 Apr 2024
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Image: Effect of plasma irradiation on broken bone (Photo courtesy of Osaka Metropolitan University)
Image: Effect of plasma irradiation on broken bone (Photo courtesy of Osaka Metropolitan University)

While most bone fractures heal properly, about 5–10% do not, leading to delayed union or non-union conditions that can cause significant complications, persistent pain, and psychological distress, severely impacting the long-term quality of life. Particularly challenging are displaced or complex fractures that necessitate surgical intervention and extended periods of partial or full immobilization, complicating recovery and imposing significant economic burdens through indirect costs such as reduced productivity. Researchers are now exploring plasma irradiation as a novel method to accelerate bone healing and reduce recovery times.

The research group led by Osaka Metropolitan University (Osaka, Japan) conducted an experiment involving laboratory rats to test this approach. They induced two types of fractures in the rats: a group of 24 rats with normal fractures, typically quick to heal, and another group of 20 rats with non-union fractures, which are notoriously slow to heal or fail to heal altogether. The rats with non-union fractures were treated with non-thermal atmospheric-pressure plasma irradiation, which significantly enhanced their healing and recovery times, unlike in the normal fracture group where it showed no notable benefits.

Moreover, the healed bones in the plasma-treated non-union group were found to be approximately 3.5 times stronger than those in the non-treated group. Additionally, an in vitro study on pre-osteoblastic cells exposed to plasma for 5 to 15 seconds revealed increased activity of a protein indicative of osteoblast differentiation, suggesting progressive maturation of these bone-forming cells.

“In the future, combining this treatment method with current fracture treatments is expected to contribute to more reliable bone fusion and shorter recovery times,” said Hiromitsu Toyoda, Associate Professor at Osaka Metropolitan University.

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Osaka Metropolitan University

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