Improve orthopedic surgery and implants

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Hip and knee replacements are two of the most common surgeries in Canada, with nearly 140,000 operations per year costing the health care system more than $1.4 billion.

This figure includes revision surgeries, also called repeat surgeries, which are generally more complex and involve longer hospital stays than the initial operation.

Researchers from Carleton University and The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute are looking for ways to improve the success of orthopedic surgeries and ensure robust long-term mobility for thousands of Canadians.

Through the new Ottawa Orthopedic Biomechanics Platformsurgeons and researchers use a robotic arm developed by KUKA, a German industrial robotics and industrial automation company, to help them better understand the biomechanics of orthopedic implants.

“The goal of the KUKA robot is to accurately replicate real-life joint movements and forces so that we can better understand how injuries occur and test innovative orthopedic procedures and implants to treat these injuries,” says the lab’s principal investigator. , Dr. Paul E. Beaulé, who is also Director of Research and Innovation in Orthopedic Surgery at The Ottawa Hospital.

Dr. Paul Beaulé, Director of Research and Innovation in Orthopedic Surgery at The Ottawa Hospital

Carlton Mechanical and aerospace engineering searcher Andrew Speir has worked alongside Dr. Beaulé and surgeons at The Ottawa Hospital for over a decade. In this new project, the robot arm will allow him and the team to apply rotations and see how forces affect joint reconstruction.

“There are a lot of mechanisms to consider in surgical repairs of anatomy in terms of how we move and how joints are loaded — ultimately, how a reconstructive technique works,” says Speirs.

“In anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction of the knee, stability is very important. When a knee moves, you want the ACL to constrain the movement at times, so it doesn’t overextend, but you also don’t want the knee to resist during normal movement. How a knee moves after surgery depends on the material used and exactly how and where it is placed in the knee. This is the type of scenario that we will be able to test.

In the hips, a common deformity is at the top of the femur (thigh bone), which can rub on the acetabulum – the socket in the pelvis where the femur fits to create a hip – and cause degeneration on the hip. edge of this socket.

“With this robot, you can load the joint with the same forces it would experience in everyday life,” says Speirs. “This includes anything that involves flexing the hip: climbing stairs, sitting, bending or tying your shoe. More precise data on applied load will help make our mathematical models more accurate.”

The new lab will also invest in a digital image correlation system to allow researchers to assess strains and strains on materials through non-contact analysis. This will help them test 3D-printed materials that could make better implants.

Researcher in mechanical and aerospace engineering at Carleton Hanspeter Frei will use the robotic arm to explore the potential for new materials and innovative manufacturing techniques that could make implants stronger and more durable.

“There are a lot of things you can do with 3D printing that can’t be done with traditional manufacturing methods,” says Speirs. “There are trade-offs with implants. A very stiff implant will support the load on the joint but take too much pressure off the bone. This can lead to loss of bone mass, much like what an astronaut experiences when spending time in space.

“When a patient loses bone around the implant, it can come loose and break,” he adds. “3D printing could help design implants that aren’t as stiff, and they could potentially be more porous, which could allow bone to grow into those pores and make the implant more secure.” 3D printing allows you to design shapes that would be very difficult in traditional manufacturing.

Walking and other forms of physical movement are centuries-old human activities, but they are not without challenges. The high-tech solution developed by Carleton researchers and their collaborators promises to help people stay active longer and more safely.

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