Developing a sensor to monitor conditions in the knee following joint replacement surgery

Disease - Osteoarthritis, joint replacement

Lead applicant - Mr Bernard van Duren

Organisation - University of Leeds

Type of grant - Translation

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £98,945.50

Start date - 1 January 2019

Reference - 22036

What are the aims of this research?

Knee replacements are an established, safe and effective treatment for managing end-stage osteoarthritis. Although generally successful, some patients report problems due to continued pain and restricted movement. Artificial joints are also limited by a finite life-span. This project aims to develop a sensor (iSMART) that can be incorporated into the implant to track recovery by continually monitoring conditions in the knee including movement, temperature and force. The researchers have successfully tested the components of the iSMART sensor and now aim to combine these to build and test the effectiveness and safety of the sensor.

Why is this research important?

Three months after undergoing knee replacement surgery, patients are seen by a specialist to assess recovery. This only provides a snapshot of their progress. A device that allows continuous monitoring will give a much clearer picture of each patient’s recovery and allow for more personalised physiotherapy advice to further help recovery. This includes assessment of whether patients are performing exercises correctly, allowing healthcare professionals to advise if they are not. It will also be able to monitor for signs of infection or implant failure, which will allow people to receive treatment to resolve this in a timely manner.

How will the findings benefit people with arthritis?

The frequency of knee replacements is anticipated to increase as they are increasingly being performed in younger and more active patients. This means the replaced joint will need to work for a longer period of time, increasing the likelihood of another operation, which can be less effective. Monitoring patient progress following surgery will allow for more personalised post-operative care to ensure that knee replacements are more effective for a greater number of people. This work will also help to improve our knowledge of knee replacements, allowing for the improvement of future designs.