Today, more than 200years after the first production of metallic magnesium by Sir
Humphry Davy in 1808, biodegradable magnesium-based metal implants are currently breaking
the paradigm in biomaterial science to develop only highly corrosion resistant metals.
This groundbreaking approach to temporary metallic implants is one of the latest developments
in biomaterials science that is being rediscovered. It is a challenging topic, and
several secrets still remain that might revolutionize various biomedical implants
currently in clinical use. Magnesium alloys were investigated as implant materials
long ago. A very early clinical report was given in 1878 by the physician Edward C.
Huse. He used magnesium wires as ligature for bleeding vessels. Magnesium alloys for
clinical use were explored during the last two centuries mainly by surgeons with various
clinical backgrounds, such as cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and general surgery.
Nearly all patients benefited from the treatment with magnesium implants. Although
most patients experienced subcutaneous gas cavities caused by rapid implant corrosion,
most patients had no pain and almost no infections were observed during the postoperative
follow-up. This review critically summarizes the in vitro and in vivo knowledge and
experience that has been reported on the use of magnesium and its alloys to advance
the field of biodegradable metals.
Copyright (c) 2010 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.