Using Magnets to Repair Femur Fracture
The Rice University Brown School of Engineering is working to improve the process of femur fracture repair by using magnets. If someone sustains a fractured femur and the bone has been displaced, surgery is often required to move the bones back into the proper position. This usually involves a network of plates, screws, and rods which are used to hold the bones in place while they heal. This process isn’t perfect, and, sometimes, surgical procedures of this nature can be challenging.
Students and doctors from Rice University are working to make this process easier. They have been working on a novel method of fracture repair that should aid orthopedic surgeons in the future. The hope is that this will lead to better surgical outcomes and improved patient recovery.
The Current Method of Surgical Femur Fracture Repair
When someone sustains a bone fracture in a traumatic accident, the doctor needs to decide whether or not that individual is going to need surgery. With the help of x-ray imaging, the doctor will look at the position of the bones and assess if they have been displaced. If the fragments of the femur are out of place, surgery will be needed to put them back together.
Once the patient arrives at the operating room, the doctor is going to insert a long rod into the fracture location. Then, using a guidewire, the rod will be threaded through the femur. Along the way, the doctor will need to drill through bone marrow to line up the fragments of the femur.
With the rod through the femur, the surgeon will then drill screws through the side of the bone and into the rod. These screws are used to hold the rod in place. If the rod stays in place, the bone fragments will be in place as well. Unfortunately, the process of drilling screws into the bone is currently done through a process of trial and error. While the surgeon will use x-rays to help him or her estimate the position of the screws, the process isn’t perfect. Rice University is seeking to change this process.
Watch YouTube Video: Fracture of the Femur and its fixation. The video below explains everything you need to know about the treatment of a femur fracture.
A New Surgical Option with the Help of Magnets
The goal is to reduce the number of x-rays and the overall time spent in the operating room by using magnets. The engineering team is developing a magnetic guidewire near the holes where the screws insert. In this fashion, the magnets will help guide the screws into the proper spot.
Using a sensor mounted along an exterior arm, the surgeon will be able to locate the position of the magnets. When the magnets are found, an LED system will light up, letting the surgeon know that the exterior arm is in position. Finally, the surgeon will drill the screw into place. Because the magnet lines up with the hole in the rod, the screw should go right in. The process is repeated until every screw has been inserted.
Using the magnet to guide the screws will improve the accuracy of the surgeon, reduce the need for trial and error, shorten operating room time, and reduce radiation exposure. This equipment is still under development, but it might significantly improve surgical femur fracture repair.
Sacramento Femur Fracture Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento femur fracture lawyer. Surgical femur fracture repair often involves screws, plates, and rods. If you or a loved one has sustained injuries to the femur due to the negligence of another person, please call me at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly legal advice.