Fast escape of hydrogen from gas cavities around corroding magnesium implants

Acta Biomater. 2013 Nov;9(10):8714-21. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2012.10.008. Epub 2012 Oct 13.


Magnesium materials are of increasing interest in the development of biodegradable implants as they exhibit properties that make them promising candidates. However, the formation of gas cavities after implantation of magnesium alloys has been widely reported in the literature. The composition of the gas and the concentration of its components in these cavities are not known as only a few studies using non-specific techniques were done about 60 years ago. Currently many researchers assume that these cavities contain primarily hydrogen because it is a product of magnesium corrosion in aqueous media. In order to clearly answer this question we implanted rare earth-containing magnesium alloy disks in mice and determined the concentration of hydrogen gas for up to 10 days using an amperometric hydrogen sensor and mass spectrometric measurements. We were able to directly monitor the hydrogen concentration over a period of 10 days and show that the gas cavities contained only a low concentration of hydrogen gas, even shortly after formation of the cavities. This means that hydrogen must be exchanged very quickly after implantation. To confirm these results hydrogen gas was directly injected subcutaneously. Most of the hydrogen gas was found to exchange within 1h after injection. Overall, our results disprove the common misbelief that these cavities mainly contain hydrogen and show how quickly this gas is exchanged with the surrounding tissue.

Keywords: Amperometric hydrogen sensor; Biodegradable implants; Gas cavities; Hydrogen; Magnesium alloys.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alloys
  • Animals
  • Corrosion
  • Electrochemical Techniques
  • Female
  • Hydrogen / analysis*
  • Immunocompetence
  • Magnesium / pharmacology*
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Hairless
  • Photoelectron Spectroscopy
  • Prostheses and Implants*
  • Skin / cytology
  • Skin / drug effects


  • Alloys
  • Hydrogen
  • Magnesium