New technology developed at the University of Auckland’s bioengineering institute (ABI) will result in safer and longer lasting hip and knee replacements.
ABI’s Thor Besier is working with colleagues in biomechanics from Adelaide’s Flinders University and the University of Melbourne to develop this new technology to test the orthopaedic designs virtually, using a computer model of the implants.
“Our expertise is in creating models of the musculoskeletal system that can estimate muscle and joint loads that can be used to determine the loads placed on implants,” says Besier, senior research fellow at the ABI and a senior lecturer at the Department of Engineering Science.
The research has received a funding grant from the Australian Research Council, which will be matched by funds from industry partner DePuy, a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson and Johnson that specializes in orthopaedic implants.
According to Besier, DePuy wants to be able to test the new designs virtually before moving to clinical trials. “Assessing how an implant will behave across a patient population is challenging,” he adds.
The researchers have a unique dataset of 327 CT scans, via colleagues at the University of Melbourne, which allow them to investigate multiple designs early in the design process and then assess them against population-based models. As a result, “these tools will shorten the design cycle, give greater insight into performance and lead to safer implants with improved longevity,” adds Besier. “Using computational modelling of this CT data we can perform thousands of simulations and show the statistical variation in an implant and let them know if it will work well or not.”
The time it takes to test a new orthopaedic implant against patient and surgical variability will also be significantly reduced.
The research team will include a post-doctoral student from ABI, Ju Zhang whose doctoral research developed some of the core technology to be used in this project.
The research has the potential to benefit thousands of New Zealanders, as about 14,000 hip and knee replacements are done in the country every year.