Orthopedic implant infections have been steadily increasing while, at the same time, antibiotics developed to kill such bacteria have proven less and less effective with every passing day. It is clear that new approaches that do not rely on the use of antibiotics are needed to decrease medical device infections. Inspired by cicada wing surface topographical features, nanostructured surfaces represent a new approach for imposing antibacterial properties to biomaterials without using drugs. Moreover, new chemistries with altered surface energetics may decrease bacterial attachment and growth. In this study, a nanostructured surface was fabricated on poly-ether-ketone-ketone (PEKK), a new orthopedic implant chemistry, comprised of nanopillars with random interpillar spacing. Specifically, after 5 days, when compared to the orthopedic industry standard poly-ether-ether-ketone (PEEK), more than 37% less Staphylococcus epidermidis were found on the PEKK surface. Pseudomonas aeruginosa attachment and growth also decreased 28% after one day of culture, with around a 50% decrease after 5 days of culture when compared to PEEK. Such decreases in bacteria function were achieved without using antibiotics. In this manner, this study demonstrated for the first time, the promise that nanostructured PEKK has for numerous anti-infection orthopedic implant applications.
Keywords: PEEK; PEKK; bacteria; infection; orthopedic.