Generative design offers solution to patient-specific knee implants

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Generative design offers solution to patient-specific knee implants

generative disign knee

Rendering of generatively designed high tibial osteotomy fixation plate. Image courtesy of Sanjeevan Kanagalingam

For several decades, people diagnosed with osteoarthritis in a knee would be offered a total knee replacement surgery. Today however, some patients have the option of knee realignment through a High Tibial Osteotomy (HTO), which preserves the native joint by offloading the diseased part and stabilizing it with a titanium fixation plate. Currently, most commercial HTO plates are “one-size-fits-all,” which leads to compromised performance and frequent complications. In the future, patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis may have the option of a biomechanically optimized, patient-specific fixation plate, thanks to the research of University of Birmingham mechanical engineering PhD candidate Sanjeevan Kanagalingam and his research project partners.

Their generatively designed fixation plates for HTO surgery will take into account personalized biomechanical requirements to devise medical-grade titanium alloy implants for matching specific patient needs. Those specifics will include, for example, the shape of the bone, patient weight, joint anatomy, degree of realignment, and typical daily activity levels. This approach offers a tailored solution for athletes who may develop knee osteoarthritis early in life and put their joints through daily high impact levels compared to people with lower activity levels. “With generative design we can tailor those details to each person and create a biomechanically specific design,” Kanagalingam says.

The research team includes the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry, UK, orthopedic surgeon Tarek Boutefnouchet, Autodesk Technical Consultant Peter Champneys, and academic supervisors Dr. Lauren Thomas-Seale and Prof. Duncan Shepherd. “This is a unique project in the field of bespoke patient specific knee osteotomy illustrating the perfect product of several years of collaboration between clinicians and engineers,” Dr. Boutefnouchet says. “With increasing longevity, people desire to remain active, fit, and functional at a more advanced age. Joint preserving operations such as knee osteotomy have become crucial in orthopedic surgery. This novel technique will be more precise, accurate, and ultimately will lead to better clinical outcomes.”