National Physical Laboratory

Assessing success of hip replacements

Predicting hip replacement failure so as to reduce risks to patients and save money for the NHS.

The Challenge

Hip hip hooray
An FE mesh of the postoperative hip, in vivo

By 2010 more than 100,000 people in the UK will require hip replacements, representing an annual cost to the NHS of £250 million. However, currently up to 20% of such patients subsequently require corrective surgery due to fractures from poor implant design or materials failure.

The Solution

A project led by NPL is the first step in developing tools that could reduce failure rates, health risks to patients, and NHS costs.

It took two years to complete and involved four orthopaedic industry partners, plus an NHS hospital and the University of Exeter. The research explored whether 3D computer simulations, generated from patient computer tomography (CT) scans, could be used to assess bone strength and predict how successful the integration of bone and implant would be. During the study real human femurs and prosthetic implants were subjected to a variety of load-bearing tests and the results compared with the 3D computer simulations.

A good correlation was found between the real bone or implant and the corresponding computer simulation, suggesting 3D simulations could be a reliable way to check how a particular implant will perform in someone's body.

"The partner approach has helped us pursue new marketing and sales opportunities within the orthopaedic industry. We're now looking at how 3D modelling can be used to shape the design of other implants."
Dr Philippe Young of project partner Simpleware Ltd

Find out more about NPL's research in Advanced Materials

Do you have a measurement challenge that you'd like NPL's help with? If so, why not apply for NPL's Technology Innovation Fund ?

Last Updated: 7 Jan 2013
Created: 6 Oct 2010

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