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2 + 2 = Knee Cap

Published: February 22, 2011 Source: MPMN Medtech Pulse

A computationally generated view of a topology-optimized design for a porous bone implant scaffold. The linking of computational design with precision fabrication has potential for producing tissue scaffolds with tailored properties. (Image courtesy of Vivien Challis, School of Mathematics and Physics, The University of Queensland)

A team of mathematicians from The University of Queensland (St. Lucia, Australia) has helped design a prototype for a new generation of bone implants that could potentially reduce surgery and rehabilitation times. In addition, the implants could be used for patients for whom current orthopedic implants are not suitable.

Using a mathematical approach called “topology optimization,” the team has come up with a prototype of a 3-D scaffold that closely matches the stiffness of human bone. At the same time, the scaffold has an open pore structure for transporting essential nutrients throughout the implant. Such scaffolds can form the building blocks of bone implants that will be fully customizable to patients’ needs.

Conventional implants are manufactured out of fully dense (and nonporous) titanium, which can be too stiff for the surrounding bone. This mismatch in stiffness has been identified as a major causal factor in implant loosening. Furthermore, conventional implants can be unsuitable for patients that have suffered from severe trauma, tumors, infection, or deformities.

“Customized, porous implants may be able to alleviate these issues by matching both the geometry and the properties of the surrounding bone,” explains Vivien Challis from the University of Queenland’s school of mathematics and physics and coauthor of the study that was recently published in Advanced Engineering Materials.

More information on this bone implant research is available from The University of Queensland.