Sensor Keeps Eye on Knee Operations

Maria Fontanazza

September 1, 2008

2 Min Read
Sensor Keeps Eye on Knee Operations

R&D DIGEST

(click to enlarge) The sensor, shown here, relies on piezoresistive thick-film technology to provide power to the implant.

A sensor that powers itself can be embedded in the knee to monitor surgery. Using thick-film technology, the Serial In Vivo Transducer has the potential to measure tendon force during anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction.

Fauzan Baharudin, a graduate student at the University of Southampton (Southampton, UK), developed the sensor. His work involved examining the use of thick-film technology in medical sensors that are embedded in the knee during an operation.

Neil White, a professor at the school, oversaw Baharudin's work. It was nearly two decades ago that White created a thick-film piezoelectric material, which contributed to Baharudin's project.

Although White stressed that the research is in its early stages, he said that previous work demonstrated that the technology could be used for prosthetic hands as well. “We have also shown that it is possible to harvest energy from the human body using piezoelectric materials, and the knee is subjected to very high levels of force during everyday activities,” White said in a university release. “It therefore seems logical to combine the two approaches to deliver a new type of embedded, self-powered sensor.”

The combination of the energy-harvesting capability in the transducer helps the device power itself. The advantages to using thick-film technology for ACL procedures include its flexibility in manufacturing, low cost, and biocompatibility.

Baharudin decided to look into the technology's use in knee surgery because not much research had been conducted in that particular area. He also expressed surprise at the lack of comparable technology available given the amount of knee injuries that athletes suffer.

Copyright ©2008 Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry

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