Computer-assisted femoral head resurfacing

Every year more than 20,000 Canadians with advanced osteoarthritis receive hip replacements. A new surgical technique resurfaces the head of the femur (the long thigh bone between the hip and knee) with a metal cap, removing far less bone than the traditional method, which involves removing a large portion of the upper femur. Hip replacements for active patients under the age of 55 have significantly increased and many of these patients will likely outlive their first hip implants. This new technique will help ensure they have enough bone to support a second surgery. Surgeons use a cumbersome alignment guide to insert a wire in the top of the femur and position the implant, which leads to variations in alignment that can loosen the implant or cause the femur to fracture. Jill Brimacombe is designing a computer-assisted surgical technique to help surgeons position the implants more accurately. The computer-assisted tool could reduce surgery time, be easier for surgeons to use, and improve accuracy, which would lengthen the life span of patients’ implants.