Sample Medical Project Proposals

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Analysis of Artificial Knee Performance Using Medical Imaging

Overview

It is estimated that over 500,000 artificial knee joints are implanted each year in the United States, with an international market of an even larger magnitude. The knee implants available today are highly engineered devices and are the results of many years and many millions of dollars of research in materials science, mechanics, and bioengineering. As such, most of the major problems associated with early models of knee implants, such as fixation and material biocompatibility, have been solved. The biggest problem now affecting the performance of these devices is related to the wear behavior of the polymer component. At present, there are limited methods of evaluating the wear behavior of an implant in vivo; the best wear analyses are based on measurements taken after the implant has been removed from the patient.

The objective of this project is to investigate possible methods of analyzing the wear behavior of a knee implant in vivo using medical imaging technology. The students involved will gain knowledge in materials science, mechanics, bioengineering, software design, medical imaging, and orthopedics. Students will also have the experience of working closely with radiologists and orthopedic surgeons, and with engineering researchers in both academia and industry.

Goals

Students will design and build a phantom knee joint that can accommodate several different models of knee implants. Students will then work with radiologists to obtain medical imaging data of the implants, possibly using various techniques including CT, MR, x-ray, and/or ultrasound. Students will work with us to utilize and/or develop software tools to analyze the imaging data and to qualitatively evaluate the wear behavior of the implants.

Deliverables

  1. A phantom knee joint designed to accept several different implants. The phantom must be able to bend like a real knee joint and display similar imaging properties. A mounting device must also be constructed to hold the phantom knee at various bending angles when imaged.
  2. Imaging data sets (electronic files) obtained from scans of the phantom knee joint with several different implants, and possibly from various imaging modalities (CT, MR, etc.).
  3. A clear, detailed, and well-written guide explaining the techniques used to analyze the imaging data for evaluation of implant wear.
  4. A comparative study of the implant wear properties measured using the imaging analysis tools versus traditional ex vivo techniques.

Required Facilities

Imaging equipment, imaging analysis software and tools will be made available.

Knowledge Areas Needed for Project

Proprietary Information and Confidentiality Requirements

Method and System for Tracking Ultrasound Imagery

Overview

Anesthesiologists use a device to stabilize an ultrasound image during regional blocking procedures. In addition to enabling a steady image, the device provides the opportunity to perform ultrasound guided blocks to private practice clinicians for whom the cost of hiring additional staff to use ultrasound technology is prohibitive.

The first iteration of this device which has recently gone to market is manually controlled and relies on friction in ball and socket joints to maintain a "locked" configuration when the target image is acquired. Even when locked, the device is able to accommodate tiny "tilt" and "rotate" motions, which are crucial in ultrasound image optimization. With this implementation, it is easy to ensure that the device holds a fixed position in space and can capture meaningful imagery.

However, it may be more desirable for some medical procedures to fix the ultrasound transducer to acquire an image of a moving target, such as a catheter tip, or a hard lesion, as it is manipulated through less dense tissue. This would require a truly "hands-free" solution, wherein the device and its corresponding transducer can track a target image over the course of a procedure.

A plurality of robotic arms exist for medical purposes, however, at the time of writing this proposal, none have been specifically designed to assist regional blocking procedures.

Goals

It is our long term goal to, using existing technology, create a system that allows clinicians to indicate a target image, then track that image over the duration of a procedure, wherein the ultrasound transducer is always over the target image.

Deliverables

Knowledge Areas Needed for Project

Proprietary Information and Confidentiality Requirements

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