Bone-shattering operations to replace defective artificial hips could be a thing of the past thanks to research at University College London, writes Alan Thomson.
Academics in the college's Institute of Orthopaedics have developed a new ultrasound machine which melts away the orthopaedic cement used to hold artificial hip assemblies in place. Currently, when artificial hips fail or need replacing, the cement must be chiselled away manually, posing a risk to surrounding bone.
The Orthosonic System for Cemented Arthroplasty Revision uses ultrasound to heat the cement, through vibration, to melting point. The liquefied cement seeps into the ultrasound probe and can be removed without harm. Senior orthopaedics lecturer Brian Bradnock, who developed Oscar, believes that, apart from saving thousands of elderly patients the pain of broken bones, the Pounds 30,000 plus system will prove cheaper for hospitals who will save on patients' ward costs. Dr Bradnock, who is selling Oscar through the in-house firm Orthosonics, says the system will have applications for other replacement operations involving cement such as shoulder, knee and elbow.