When people undergo joint replacement surgery, one of the key concerns for doctors is the longevity of the prosthetics. In order to determine the best possible outcome, surgeons have so far had to rely mostly on their experience. But, thanks to unique technology developed by researchers at the University of Southampton, this is likely to change soon. The MXL project has delivered specialised software that will help doctors achieve the best possible results regarding artificial joint lifespans and patient safety.
Financing for the project came from the Seventh Framework Programme run by the European Commission. The leader of the UK research team, Professor Markus Heller, explained that efforts have led to the creation of a 3D musculoskeletal model comprising data on bone shape and tissue density variations. It makes it possible to carry out advanced biomechanical assessment of the joint reconstruction. Thanks to this specialised software, implants can be positioned automatically and surgeons can modify the size and position of prosthetic joints according to the individual needs of patients. In addition to extending the lifespan of artificial joints, the technology will improve patient safety, Heller said.
He went on to note that no artificial joint lasted forever but some wore out in just a few years. Almost 10% of joint replacement operations performed annually in the European Union are interventions for the purpose of replacing worn-out prosthetics. Known as revisions, these operations are complex and the rehabilitation process takes longer. Moreover, they are quite expensive: the cost of a hip revision, for example, is estimated at €80,000.