Each year surgeons across Europe perform a staggering 900,000 hip, knee and spinal implant operations. Implant surgery is one of the most remarkable advances in medical science. Such operations restore increased mobility and a vastly improved quality of life to millions of Europeans.
Implant surgery also has one of the most remarkable success rates in medical practice, with reliable, predictable outcomes and very few complications. But it is not complication free.
“About 10 per cent of operations have complications, often requiring a new implant, or a further surgery,” explains Dr. Ing. Ruben Lafuente, technical manager of the Spanish IT consulting firm Adapting S.L. and co-ordinator of the OrthoSim project. “It means increased pain and inconvenience, a drain on human resources and of course it is expensive, too.”
Enter the EU-funded OrthoSim project. Set up to develop an orthopaedic surgery planning tool, OrthoSim has developed a platform that can significantly reduce the risk of post-op complications, as well as provide a means for testing new implant devices, the researchers claim. And in the very near future the platform will provide the base for a new surgical training tool.Simulating the interface
“Our lumbar spinal region model is the result of over 20 years of research at the Laboratoire de Biomecanique of L’Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Arts et Metiers in Paris,” explains Lafuente. “It was enhanced and complemented by a lumbar implant model provided by the Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia in Spain.”
These models were combined to provide a reliable simulation of the interface between the artificial implant and the living tissue, providing surgeons with vital pre-op information.
“With this service, a surgeon or implant engineer can effectively call on the expertise of the best people in any field of orthopaedic surgery, where biomechanical simulation can offer new insights for patient care,” Lafuente says.
Even better, the tool can be used to study the suitability of new implant devices and can help pinpoint any problems with the design at an early stage.
“Implant designers get the opportunity to test their new designs initially without the need for actual implantations,” notes Lafuente. “It will mean better implant designs at an early stage, cutting costs and research time, as well as improving outcomes early on.”
Solving the integration problem
The models are linked together and are hosted at an online service. Integrating the various models and algorithms into a unified platform was a difficult computer science problem to solve.
“We had to work very hard to get the protocols right and we spent a lot of time developing the user interface, too,” says Lafuente. “We wanted to make the service as simple to use as possible.”
The OrthoSim project ended in March last year, with the research team successfully combining the various elements of the project. Since then the partners have been developing the service offering further and are looking for financial support.
“Initially we had a model just for lumbar spine implants, but in the last months we have almost completed a validated model for hip implants,” says Lafuente. “We believe that once we finish perfecting a model for knee implants we will have a very strong set of tools to offer surgeons.”
But Lafuente warns that developing new products for the health market is a very difficult task in itself.
“The quality assurance and validation issues are very important in healthcare directed products, and will require more work,” he says.
That work continues. A follow-on project, called OrthoTraining, is taking the OrthoSim toolset a step further. Over the next two years OrthoTraining’s researchers plan to develop a surgical training tool based on OrthoSim’s work.
“It will enhance training for students and it will mean that newly qualified surgeons will have better training and an enhanced skill set,” Lafuente says. “This will improve the medical services and quality of life of European citizens.”
OrthoSim was funded under the EU's eTEN programme for market validation and implementation.
Ahmed ElAmin | alfa
Stable magnetic bit of three atoms
21.09.2017 | Sonderforschungsbereich 668
Drones can almost see in the dark
20.09.2017 | Universität Zürich
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy