Severely broken bones often require external bone fixation pins to provide support but they can become infected. In order to reduce such infections, novel solutions are required. Titanium zirconium nitride (Ti-ZrN) and Ti-ZrN silver (Ti-ZrN/Ag) coatings were deposited onto stainless steel. Surface microtopography demonstrated that on the silver containing surfaces, S a and S v values demonstrated similar trends whilst the R a, average height and RMS value and S p values increased with increasing silver concentration. On the Ti-ZrN/Ag coatings, surface hydrophobicity followed the same trend as the S a and S v values. An increase in dead Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis cells was observed on the coatings with a higher silver concentration. Using CTC staining, a significant increase in S. aureus respiration on the silver containing surfaces was observed in comparison to the stainless steel control whilst against S. epidermidis, no significant difference in viable cells was observed across the surfaces. Cytotoxicity testing revealed that the TiZrN coatings, both with and without varying silver concentrations, did not possess a detrimental effect to a human monocyte cell line U937. This work demonstrated that such coatings have the potential to reduce the viability of bacteria that result in pin tract infections.
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