"This microsensor not only reduces post-operation recovery time, it will also help reduce the wait time for patients needing artificial joint implants," says Dr. Walied Moussa, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Using nanotechnology, the researchers built the device that measures and compares the relative osseointegration of a hip implant over time. The microsensor will be able to monitor the progression of the biological fixation between bone tissue and the implant.

The sensor is permanently implanted with the joint and is powered kinetically - it uses the natural movement of the patient's body as its power source. When it is not being used, it stays dormant until a doctor asks it to start transmitting data. Careful monitoring of how the patient is healing will help patients recover as quickly as possible and resume normal activities with less chance of over stressing the fracture during recovery and rehabilitation, the researchers hope. It would also allow the surgeon to more accurately decide when it is safe to send patients home from the hospital with their new implants.

"The ability to monitor and quantify this healing process is critical to orthopaedic surgeons in determining a patient's rehabilitation progress," says Moussa. The device will also cut down the need for X-rays to monitor bone functionality, reducing costs and exposure to radiation. And the sensor can detect and identify bone loss before it is even visible on a radiograph.

This technology will not only monitor bone healing at the time of surgery but also can determine when implants are worn out and need to be replaced. It will be able to observe the health of the implant throughout the patient's lifetime.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Alberta