Stainless steel materials are used for medical applications due to their high strength and corrosion resistance, ease of formability, and low cost. A chromium rich oxide layer nucleates on the surface to provide the materials with their resistance to corrosion. Because of these favorable properties stainless steels, namely 316L, have become popular choices for orthopaedic implants, dental implants, and stents. However, the most frequent use of stainless steel implants is for fracture fixation of bone. In this case, a plate is fixed to the bone with screws in order to provide mechanical stability and facilitate healing following fracture.
Simulated inflammatory conditions were found to increase 316L susceptibility to crevice corrosion attack. Sample examination following the immersion period showed evidence of severe localized corrosion in crevice susceptible areas on the 316L surface. This observation was supported by increased ion release measured by ICPMS, and a decreased RP measured by EIS for samples exposed to inflammatory conditions compared to the normal condition. 316L is thought to experience enhanced corrosion through a mechanism of localized crevice corrosion when in the presence of simulated inflammatory conditions. This may indicate that caution should be taken when using 316L for multi-component devices where deep crevices are likely to be found in the junctions between the components.