Why is Gold Plating Used for Medical Instruments?
Physicians, dentists, and other medical health professionals would have a difficult time treating their patients successfully without the aid of medical devices. A medical device is defined as “an article, instrument, apparatus or machine that is used in the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of illness or disease, or for detecting, measuring, restoring, correcting, or modifying the structure or function of the body for some health purpose,” according to the World Health Organization. Medical devices help doctors and dentists examine patients, treat wounds, perform surgical procedures, and provide long-term solutions to serious medical conditions.
What is a Medical Device?
Many types of devices are provided by medical device component manufacturers, including:
· Electro-medical equipment
· Medical and surgical instruments
· Irritation apparatuses
· Surgical appliances and supplies, and
· In-vitro diagnostic equipment
Some of the most commonly known devices of this type are CT scanners and cardiac pacemakers, but technological advances have also allowed for the production of devices such as neuro-stimulators, cardiac stents, biomarkers, and implantable electronic devices. People are living longer and there is a large segment of the population that is aging and in need of cardiac care. For these reasons, research leading to improved production of medical devices should flourish in the future.
What Other Materials Could be Used?
Medical devices need to be coated with some kind of material that will allow them to resist scratches and corrosion while also being able to be sterilized. Some of these suitable materials include rhodium, silver, palladium, nickel, copper, and tin. While many of these materials are less expensive than gold, they are not better alternatives.
Why is Gold Plating the Best Solution?
It’s now common practice to see medical devices plated with gold. Gold has many properties that make it the better choice:
· Bio-compatibility – Gold will not cause reactions in the skin, tissues, or internal organs like other metals can
· Malleability – Gold is one of the softer metals, so it can be used for intricate, high-precision medical tools and devices
· Conductivity – Gold not only conducts electricity, it can maintain this property for the life of the medical device. It is preferred for use in devices that employ electrical contact switches or connector pins
· Radiopacity – Gold does not allow x-rays to pass through it, and
· Corrosion-resistant – Gold is not affected by acid or moisture, so it will not oxidize. This is an important quality for devices that must be implanted inside the human body, such as a cardiac stent or a pacemaker. Gold can be sterilized and will not rust or corrode.
Some of the instruments that benefit from gold plating include:
· Dental components
· Cardiac stents
· Batteries for medical equipment, such as insulin pumps, and
· High tech lasers used to cauterize wounds
Gold is easier to work with and doesn’t cause allergic reactions in the body like other metals can. Even though gold is more expensive, the fact that it can be used long-term in devices such as stents and pacemakers, which must maintain their functionality for years while being housed inside the human body, makes it the more cost-effective option in the long run.
Medical devices make our lives easier. Physicians, dentists, and other health professionals use them to treat our illnesses and improve the quality of our lives. The demands of the aging populations will ensure that research into further life-saving technologies will continue.