Rensselaer Researchers Develop Postsurgery Orthopedic Implant Sensor
An implantable sensor developed by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY) can transmit data wirelessly from the site of a recent orthopedic surgery. Developed by Eric Ledet, an assistant professor in the department of biomedical engineering, the sensor can provide surgeons with detailed, real-time information from the actual surgery site, an in vivo process that could lead to more accurate assessments of a patient’s recovery or provide information about potential complications.
Measuring only 4 mm in diameter x 500 µm in thickness, the sensor does not require a battery, external power source, or electronics in the body. Instead, it is powered by the external device that is also used to capture sensor data. “Our new sensor will give surgeons the opportunity to make personalized, highly detailed, and very objective diagnoses for individual patients,” Ledet remarks. “The simplicity of the sensor is its greatest strength. The sensor is inexpensive to produce, requires no external power source, yet it is robust and durable. We are very excited about the potential of this new technology.” Having a stream of real-time in vivo data should take some of the approximation and subjectivity out of declaring a patient recovered and ready to return to work, Ledet adds.
Capable of being attached to commonly used orthopedic musculoskeletal implants such as rods, plates, and prostheses, the sensor looks like small coils of wire. Once it is implanted, it can monitor and transmit data about the load, strain, pressure, or temperature of the surgery site. In addition, it is scalable, tunable, and easy to configure, enabling it to be incorporated into many different types of implantable orthopedic devices.