What is the simulator scenario?
Lorenz: It pertains to primary hip replacement surgery, not revision surgery. It means the incision at the hip and closing of the surgical wound are not part of this process, but it incorporates all steps related to the bone and joint. This includes the dislocation of the joint and the removal of the femoral head from its socket, the acetabular reaming, the hammering of prosthetic parts into the artificial socket, and the placement of the acetabular insert/liner inside the acetabular cup.
On the upper part of the thigh bone, the bone marrow is aspired from the femur and the surgical rasps of various sizes are mounted in to make room for the stem that is inserted into the femur. Then the final shaft is inserted, possibly with a temporary component to check and adjust the movement and position of the implant prosthetic. The final ball is subsequently inserted into the new socket, assuring proper sizing and positioning of the new joint.
How do you create realistic haptic feedback?
Lorenz: In the project predecessor, we already conducted biomechanical testing to measure the interactional forces and torques during acetabular reaming. For the surgery’s next steps, we also plan to make femoral measurements starting in October. We will team up with our partner, the Division of Macroscopic and Clinical Anatomy at the Medical University of Graz (Austria) for this process. We will subsequently review the results with the help of experienced surgeons.
The project has been running for almost eleven months. What are the interim results?
Lorenz: We have already laid the groundwork for various subareas. There is a rough training and process concept, early details for error feedback we like to provide, and the basic synchronization of a multi-user mode that facilitates a location-independent connection and allows participants to share the VR environment. We have also completed the planning process for the outstanding biomechanical measurements. The bulk of the work will take place over the next twelve months, during which we plan to finish developing and connecting all areas. A prototype is expected to be available in a year to be evaluated by surgeons.