In spite of extensive basic and clinical research, there are still major problems related to implant-associated infections. Medical implants are used to replace irreversibly damaged tissue in various areas of medicine, such as dentistry, orthopaedics and heart surgery. The demands are even increasing as the population ages. However, in all medical disciplines, implants frequently lose their function because of implant–associated infections. These infections are caused by bacteria that are organised in complex biofilms on the implant surface.
Implant failure is one of the most severe complications in modern medicine, because it results in loss of organ function, impaired quality of life, in stressful and tedious re-operations and frequently even life-threatening complications. Implant failure is also always associated with significant costs for the health system. Thus, future research must concentrate on the development of new implant surfaces, in order to reduce the risk of this type of infections.
The European I4A arose from the lively exchanges between European scientists and Professor Rabih O. Darouiche, Speaker of the North American “Multidisciplinary Alliance Against Device-Related Infections”. The first joint meeting was in 2012 in Hannover. The founding members of the I4A Alliance are directors of dental and surgical departments, as well as representatives of research centres outside universities.