How Platinum is Perfect for the Healthcare Industry
Platinum is an amazing metal—and not just because you love your engagement ring! Its non-reactive, non-corrosive properties and strength makes platinum the perfect ingredient in the healthcare industry. Machined into very small yet complex components, platinum is made into devices such as pacemakers, wires and drugs designed to treat cancer and coils that help to prevent cerebral aneurysms.
Today, this most precious metal, as well as other platinum group metals, help individuals in a variety of ways. Here are just a few of the most common uses for platinum in medicine today:
Cardiovascular Treatments: For more than 40 years, platinum has been a standard part of devices and procedures designed to remedy coronary artery disease, write joint authors Alison Cowley of Johnson Matthey Precious Metals Marketing and Brian Woodward of Johnson Matthey Medical Products in Platinum Metals Review. “Platinum alloys have been used extensively in treatments such as balloon angioplasty and stenting, where inertness and visibility under x-ray are crucial.”
Platinum is used in the catheters and the flexible tubes that surgeons use in minimally invasive cardiac procedures. Because of its “radiopacity”—the inability of electromagnetic radiation to pass through a particular material—platinum markers and wires guide the surgeon under x-ray as the catheters move through the body.
Cardiac pacemakers and defibrillators are made with naturally hypoallergenic platinum components to limit the possibility of rejection by the body. Because it also maintains conductivity, platinum is frequently used in the manufacture of these life-saving devices, helping patients suffering from arrhythmia (irregular heart beat) to go about their daily lives.
Neurological Treatments: Precise manufacturing of platinum wire is routinely used in a high-risk brain surgery procedure. Thin, malleable platinum coils are used to fill balloon aneurysms in order to prevent life-threatening hemorrhaging. According to Cowley and Woodward, approximately 30-40% of patients treated for brain aneurysms in the United States are treated his way.
Cancer Treatments: In chemical form, platinum has revealed its ability to inhibit the division of living cells, a discovery first made in 1962. Today, approximately half of all patients who receive anticancer chemotherapy are treated with a platinum drug, according to a 2005 study in Current Medicinal Chemistry. These platinum-based chemotherapeutics—commonly known as “platins”—are used in the treatment of a variety of cancers types; one of the first platins, Cisplatin, improved the cure rate of testicular cancer from 10% to 85%.
Platinum is also used in a form of radiation therapy. Administered directly to a tumor, platinum-coated iridium wires with irradiated tips are implanted directly into the body. Platinum protects healthy tissue and delivers the treatment directly to the area of need.