You are going to read opinions from professionals with initials after their names and others that work within the amputee community who oppose the use of OI technology for Amputees. Ironically the majority of these opponents appear to originate within the United States. There are also those in the OI community that tend to blame negative views regarding the technology on some sort of conspiracy. Although the fact is, not every amputee is a suitable candidate for Osseointegration or even have an interest in the technology for that matter. There will always remain a large portion of the amputee population who will still require the use of a more traditional prosthetic device. So the whole corporate greed and cover up conspiracy dose not really hold up and only hurts and distracts from advancing legitimate awareness of the technology. Companies like Lim Innovations who offers an adjustable comfort socket design with the Infinite Socket, Biodesigns with their Osseosyncronization technique utilizing the HiFi socket, Revolimb and the Adjusting Compression Socket Design, as well as Stan Patterson’s Negative Pressure Prosthetic System or NPS and of course Marlo Ortiz’s MAS Socket; are all great alternatives for those amputees who will still require the use of a traditional socket based system. So In the end, unless opponents of the technology possess initials preceded by “Amputee”, their opinions regarding risks vs benefits have no direct affect on me personally. If an amputee is a suitable OI candidate, its a no brainer so to speak; the benefits absolutely outweigh the risks and the decision to undergo the procedure begins and ends with the patient.
What are the risks? First of all, there is the possibility of infection. One drawback to this technology is the fact that the implant has to protrude through the skin in order to obtain prosthetic attachment. Currently the interface between the titanium implant and outer skin surface doesn’t truly heal and requires attention to hygiene. I communicate with an upper leg amputee in Australia who utilizes the OPRA system and says no special attention has been required; a simple shower has been sufficient to keep the area clean and free from any infection. I have the ILP implant and the same care is taken. A simple shower making sure the area is clean and so far no other attention has been needed. For obvious reasons, exposure to bodies of water like Pools and Lakes has the potential to increase that risk. Although all one has to do is seal the area using an old liner or custom cover to keep bacteria out if one wishes to swim in such water. A fracture to the femur is also possible if one experiences a hard fall. Although implant manufacturers are now utilizing safety devices that allow the prosthetic to break free from the implant; which helps reduce the risk.
Integrum utilizes the safety device AXOR that protects against torque on two planes (Horizontal and Vertical), that does not require the use of an allen key for prosthetic attachment. The device was actually designed by OPRA implant patient Erik Ax of Norway and is exclusive to the OPRA implant.
Both the ILP and OPL devices are compatible with a few different safety adapters and there are three different designs commercially available today. Although there are some previous designs being used as well. I use a few different adapters myself. One of of which is a now discontinued Australian device that has a quick release and allows one to adjust the offset up to 20 mm in either direction. Another is the original German adapter which has break away pins built into the male end of the dual cone adapter. The Australians also developed an adapter that uses the same concept as the German system and both require the use of an allen key. The Dutch offers a device they developed in Nijmegen called the OTN safety adapter. Their device is a a bit different, as it utilizes an air coupler style quick release design and places the break away pins externally. They are currently beta testing a version that will allow the user to adjust the break away point and self reset the system in the event the safety mechanism is activated.
When it comes to potential health risks, simply take a look at the warnings relating to blood pressure or cholesterol medication. If all you took into consideration were the risks involved, a person would never consider taking them in the first place and would be missing out on the benefits these medications have to offer. Or how about an uncircumcised male? The risk of infection for a guy who doesn’t pay a little extra attention to personal hygiene could result in a much worse scenario than an infection associated with an implant. There is risk with all things in life but the advantages Osseointegration has to offer specific amputees are simply too great to dismiss out of fear.
As one can see OI is not without complications, nor is the surgery something to be taken lightly. Although receiving an implant still remains the personal decision of an actual amputee and not a governmental agency, disability advocate or professional who works in the field.