hip implant technology

Researchers at the University of Warwick have been working to develop a new device which helps identify patients who have more ‘flex’ than they should do in their pelvis. These people are at a higher risk of developing problems with prosthetic hip joints following surgery (especially issues such as dislocation), so with the help of this device, patients would be able to take steps to ensure that the flex in the hip joint does not put their new hip replacement joint under unnecessary stresses. It would essentially ensure that surgeons are fully informed of who is most at risk and take steps accordingly to mitigate.

As things stand currently, surgeons are aware of the increased risk for people with this type of pelvic position, but it is time-consuming and more difficult to diagnose: “Patients who have pelvises that rotate large amounts during movement are at higher risk of dislocation, particularly if the replacement hip is not fitted accurately. Those patients can receive a more advanced surgical plan, but it is currently difficult to identify who requires this without a number of time-consuming and expensive x-rays.”

The new pelvic tracking device is able to detect immediately which patients have high levels of ‘pelvic rotation’ and to ensure that this is woven into their surgical plan and aftercare. Not only does this device have the potential to help ensure that the quality of care is aligned more closely to patients’ needs, the speed at which the diagnosis is possible means that it also provides a significant cost saving.

Dr Mark Elliott explains, “this new device has been developed to allow surgeons to screen patients for a flexible pelvis in a matter of minutes, identifying those who are at increased risk of complications if it is not fitted accurately. This will hopefully reduce costs and save time by identifying those patients who require more accurate surgical procedures. The research team working on the project have created a design and algorithm that can accurately track the pelvis movements comparable to that currently measured by x-rays.”

The device has been available for surgeons to test out first hand at the recent British Orthopaedic Association exhibition in central Birmingham, which allowed the device’s creators, a company called Corin, to explain the benefits they believe the device can bring to patient care and surgical outcomes.

In terms of future proofing hip replacements for patients with overly flexible pelvises, this is a clear step in the right direction in terms of the evolution of medical technology in this area. There are other exciting developments too which would work in tandem with this, such as the MAKO robotic-assisted hip replacement surgery. This technology allows surgeons to scan patients and output a bespoke 3D model of the affected area, which gives them a unique opportunity to design the patients’ surgical plan especially around the issues that they are struggling with. The benefits of these improved technologies are that there is a much greater likelihood of getting it right first time, which leads to fewer issues such as dislocation, and less of a requirement for revision surgery to correct work done on less informed patient assessments.

Mr Simon Bridle is one of the first orthopaedic surgeons in London to be able to offer his patients robotic-assisted hip replacement surgery. Call 020 8947 9524 to find out more.