Newly developed fiber-optic guide is promising for more accurate orthopedic procedures

A team of researchers in The Hebrew University's BioDesign: Medical Innovation program (Jerusalem, Israel) has developed a fiber-optic guide system that detects minute changes in guide-wire trajectory during orthopedic surgery. This allows the surgeon to make necessary adjustments in real time before damage occurs, significantly reducing operation time and increasing safety.

Common orthopedic procedures, such as hip and pelvic fracture surgery as well as spinal fusion, require the accurate positioning of a thin metallic wire to guide the positioning of a fixating screw. However, the surgical procedure is often hampered by deflection, bending, and even breakage of the guide wire, which then requires repair while complicating and prolonging the recovery of patients. To address this challenge, Prof. Meir Liebergall, head of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Hadassah Medical Center, partnered with a multidisciplinary team of medical doctors, along with engineering and business students, from The Hebrew University's BioDesign: Medical Innovation program. There, the research team created a system that provides real-time indication of deflection or bending of the guide wire, allowing a surgeon to be able to adjust the procedure before damage occurs.

Students at the Hebrew University's BioDesign program developed an optoelectronic drilling system that detects minute changes in guide-wire trajectory during surgery. (Image courtesy of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

The team's development, BendGuide, is an optoelectronic drilling system that monitors and detects minute changes in guide-wire trajectory during surgery. It allows surgeons to correct drilling trajectories during the procedure itself, eliminates guide-wire bending or breakage, and significantly reduces operation time and safety. It uses a fiber bundle with a reflecting laser beam that enables detection of small deflections in wire trajectory. At a fully aligned state, the beam power hits the center of the detector array. When deflected, mirror misalignment causes the power to spread differentially across the fiber bundle.

Students at the Hebrew University's BioDesign program developed an optoelectronic drilling system that detects minute changes in guide-wire trajectory during surgery. (Image courtesy of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

The market for computer-aided navigation systems for surgery is growing fast—in the U.S. alone, it is estimated at $500 million annually. BendGuide aims to become an integral part of this market, which is expected to grow further with the aging population.

For more information, please visit https://youtu.be/sco43bbo3Yk.

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