Other People’s Bones Could Heal Your Broken Foot [Really!]

X-rays like these could be a thing of the past once the Shark Screw is approved for use in foot surgeriesAs anyone who’s ever suffered a particularly bad break will know, hard-to-heal fractures often require surgery—and the implant of metal screws to support the healing process! Of course, this type of implantation is messy. Your body will often try to reject the insertion of a foreign object and, since your body isn’t meant to keep metal inside it for long periods of time, you’ll likely need a second surgery to remove the implant even if your body isn’t rejecting the screw.

To combat some of these pesky problems, Austrian physician Klaus Pastl came up with a new invention—the Shark Screw, composed of the hard middle layer of other people’s femurs. The femur (thigh bone) is the longest, strongest and hardest bone in the body, so it’s a smart choice for the backbone (pun intended) of this new invention.

Already in use in several hospitals in Austria and Switzerland, these Shark Screws (made from donated medical material) never have to be removed; in fact, in about six weeks, the graft becomes incorporated into your own bone! At this moment, researchers are working on specialized screws that can be used for jaw and foot surgeries, which means your next foot fracture may be treated by a much less invasive surgical process!

Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.