FREMONT, CA: A team of bioengineering students from Rice University, Houston, TX proposed a new approach which utilizes magnets to hold fractured bones in place. It is predicted to be a significant upgrade from the current procedure of using multiple X-rays to locate the predrilled holes in the rod used to bolster the bone fragments.
The team, self-titled as ‘Drill Team Six,’ opted to explore the idea pitched by Dr. Ashvin Dewan, alumni of Rice University and an orthopedic surgeon at Houston Methodist Hospital. The team comprised of bioengineering majors Babs Ogunbanwo, Takanori Lida, Byung-UK Kang, and Hannah Jackson, and mechanical engineering majors Will Yarinsky, and Ian Frankel. The efforts of the team were lauded at the annual engineering design showcase by conferring upon them the Excellence in Engineering Award.
The traditional process of fractured bone treatment involves inserting a long rod with predrilled holes into the patient’s bone. Once the rod is placed, the surgeons use screws to fasten the rod and the bone fragments. The drawback of the approach is the need for multiple X-rays and long surgery time. The new approach will potentially reduce the X-rays, the operating time, and also the setup time.
The team proposed the magnetization of hole-adjacent wires to guide the screws into place. The magnets hold the screws during the location. After the rod has been secured, the wire and magnets are removed. The process utilizes sensors to locate the magnets along the rod. The angle of the sensor can be adjusted to determine the angle of the magnet. The virtual LED lights on the display notify the users when all the three degrees of freedom align with the target. After the location process, the sensor is extracted, and a drill is introduced. The rod used in the procedure has a thickness ranging from 10mm to 20mm with a hole on either side.
The trials conducted by the bioengineering team have yielded excellent results. The team is all set to further their research, which could result in gaining the approval of the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for the process to be clinically established. The process will assist the doctors in simplifying the procedure of mending fractured bones in the arm and leg.