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  • Project No: 2023 iCase 3
  • Intake: iCase 2023


Bones are complex organs and their ability to withstand mechanical forces depend on an interplay of structural, architectural, and material properties. Complications in orthopaedic surgery are often related to the failure of a bone to withstand a mechanical force, e.g. a screw may pull out after transpedicular fixation, or a hammering action might cause peri-prosthetic femoral fracture during hip replacement surgery. Information about a bone’s structure and trabecular architecture can be readily gleaned from radiographic imaging but mechanical information about bone material is not normally available to clinicians. We propose sensorising surgical instruments to measure the strength of bone material intraoperatively. We will measure various instrument parameters (such as torque on a drill, power-draw by a saw and/or displacement/velocity as measured with surgical navigation) and use them to build a model that predicts the material properties of bone. It is envisaged that this patient-specific information could, in the future, become an important part of the clinical decision- making process (for example, “is the knee bone in this patient strong enough to do cementless surgery?” or “Will this fracture fixation plate stay in place long enough for the fracture to heal?”). 


Role of the commercial partner

Stryker will provide access to state-of-the-art surgical instrumentation and will share technical expertise around the design and manufacture of modern medical devices. This interaction with Stryker engineers will greatly enhance the training of the doctoral student in highlighting how clinical, regulatory, manufacturing and/or business factors might interplay with the eventual goal of sensorising instruments to measure bone material properties intraoperatively. 


Training and support available

The supervision team comprises an engineer (SM) and an orthopaedic surgeon (DM) on the academic side plus an engineer from the industrial partner (KB). The student will learn about orthopaedic surgery, orthopaedic biomechanics, sensors and data processing. They will learn how innovation within healthcare is managed and how product goes from the idea-stage to the prototype/proof-of-concept stage.