Optimized Patient-Specific Knee Joint Implants

24/08/2012

RWTH Aachen researchers are developing new processes for efficiently planning and creating opimized patient-specific knee joint implants.

 

The trend towards personalized therapies, adapted to patients' individual needs, requires innovative medical engineering solutions. During computer-supported planning for knee joint implant operations, implant geometry for every patient is being increasingly individually created, instead of implants "from the rack".

The most modern processes for automatically processing clinical image data, computer-supported planning assistants, and laser-supported production techniques are necessary in order for individual biomechanical needs to be optimally considered and for the effort and time that goes into planning and making the implants to remain doable and payable during daily hospital routines.

A 3D planning model can be generated from various picture images of the joint in question and compared with saved information about the function and biomechanics of the healthy knee joint. This information helps the orthopedist to plan out the individual knee joint implant and operationally implement it more optimally than until now. Additionally, these implants are generated by a laser beam from a fine powder of highly purified special alloys in an argon protective gas atmosphere.

The RapidGEN project, which focuses on this goal and is coordinated by the RWTH Aachen Chair of Medical Engineering, received an additional 2.3 million Euros in funding for the next two years. The  North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Research and the European Union are cofinancing the future-oriented project within the framework of the European Fund for Regional Development (EFRE) 'Ziel 2' program "Regional Competitive Ability and Occupation".

The research at RWTH Aachen will be funded with about 1.6 million Euros. In addition to the Chair of Medical Engineering, involved RWTH Aachen insititutes include the Department of Orthopedics, the Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, the Chair of Laser Technology, and the Insitute of Materials Applications in Mechanical Engineering. The remaining funds will go to the companies SurgiTAIX AG in Herzogenrath (surgical planning software) and Realizer GmbH in Borchen (SLM Production Technology).The project partners are collaborating with Conformis Inc., the leading provider of knee individual implants from the USA, in order to market the developments from NRW worldwide.