Medical Sensors Advance Smart Knee Implants

Sensors have been a medical mainstay for several decades and are now a key component in a myriad implantable devices, as well as some of the most advanced medical equipment. As technology advances, so does the use of medical sensors. As a leader in sensor technology, HSI Sensing has seen first-hand how it has revolutionized big industries and small procedures alike.

Now, if one recent study is any indication, medical sensor technology may soon become a major tool in knee replacement surgery. Researchers say that the creation of smart knee implants could help streamline and improve the treatment patients receive following a knee replacement.

Studies from at least two major universities recently released research that shows that when medical sensors are utilized in knee implants, it allows doctors to better treat their patients. That’s because these medical sensors are able to carefully monitor how much pressure a certain activity has on the implant, and how that pressure may negatively impact the patient who underwent surgery.

But placing medical sensors in knee implants would do more than just monitor pressure, the researchers determined. They can also be a key tool in the recovery process, allowing doctors to determine when a particular activity or movement has become too much for the implant.

This knowledge allows the doctors to best advise patients who have undergone knee replacement surgery on how to adjust their movement to prolong the life of their implant and avoid further damage to it.

The end goal? To decrease the number of repeat knee replacement surgeries. Why? Knee replacements are one of the most common procedures performed in the United States. Sadly, the number of these surgeries keeps going up, and the purpose of many is to replace an old implant or even a more recent implant that has worn out.

Placing medical sensors in knee implants can allow doctors to help determine that patients are overexerting themselves following surgery long before any physical symptoms appear in the patient. That foreknowledge could impact the lifespan of the implant, and ultimately whether or not a patient must undergo a second surgery or knee replacement.

This is especially important considering that an increasing number of younger patients prone to join ailments are undergoing knee replacement surgery. The potential impact of medical sensor technology in knee implants is even more important when realizing that recent statistics show these patients must endure knee replacement surgery as often as every five to 10 years, depending on their level of activity.

However, while researchers are optimistic about the future of medical sensors in knee implants because they solve the issue of “is it too much activity or not enough?” there are still some shortcomings. One problem being explored is battery power because doctors were concerned about powering the devices with a battery that would need to be periodically replaced. Just like the end goal for most surgeries, the goal of medical sensors in knee implants is to prevent and/or prolong secondary replacement surgery. Fortunately, there’s already a workable solution, according to researchers: Smart knee implants that can be powered by the patient’s motions.

While the research and associated technology is still new, it’s another example of how medical sensor technology is making life better for both doctors and the patients for whom they provide care.