Are Medical Device Coatings Safe for the Body?

Written by: Denton Vacuum, LLC

Summary: Are medical device coatings actually safe for the body?

As medical science evolves, the need to put objects into a patient’s body increases. There are more gadgets that do more to keep patients alive and comfortable for longer periods of time. Consider just how much tubes like the catheter have changed. They are still not a pleasant experience, but aqueous coatings have made them easier to slip in and out of the patient’s body.

These chemicals bring up important questions about the safety risks posed to your body. Are these device coatings actually making patients safer?

Consider the Device

There are several kinds of anti-reflective coating possible for eye glasses. Each is good for a specific kind of user. Index-matching, for instance, functions like tarnishing a lens. So it is with coatings, each coating being suited to a specific purpose and carrying out a specific duty. Anti-microbial coatings, for instance, are designed to fend off bacterial infections that can seep through open wounds created by tubes into the skin.

Without these devices, patients still need a catheter or eye glasses, but their site or comfort levels may be diminished. In some cases, their health is jeopardized as they are at risk for infection.

Alterations to the Device

If the coating inhibits the device from doing its job, the coating is ineffective. That’s why medical manufacturers utilize a thermal evaporation system when applying coatings to a device. The finish is thin-film, often only micrometers in thickness, which presents almost no difference to the patient.

Thin film is a little different from the effect yo get with UHV sputter deposition. This process acts more like a spray can, and can give a smooth surface but it more often used to metalize something. You might find metalized plastic in joint replacements or acting as anti-static shielding for medical equipment in the patient’s room.