Patients can suffer from anatomic deformities (e.g. flatfeet), traumatic events (heelbone fracture) or areas of muscle weakness. To alleviate pain and restore function, their bones are surgically realigned and fixated. Even though 3D imaging techniques such as CT scans can nowadays assist in determining the required alignment in quantitative values, surgeons still primarily perform the surgical correction by eye sight. For long bones such as the femur or tibia, this gives quite nice results. However, aligning small bones (e.g. calcaneus, scaphoid) by eye side is very difficult, because the bones are complexly shaped and an correction error immediately result in relative large malalignment.
Our philosophy is to aid surgeons with (mechanical) measurement tools that allows them to verify the intended amount of correction in the operating room. This way, we leave the surgeon in control to make decisions on what is correct. To our opinion this is important since the surgeon has the complete overview of the entire musculoskeletal chain. Furthermore, in the operating room the amount of correction can still be adjusted, so we find that the place to verify correct alignment.
Focus on specific challenges
Challenges for alignment of bones are the following: defining ‘good’ alignment, defining anatomic landmarks that allow consistent repetitive measurements at a certain accuracy, integrating usability, ergonomics and cleaning requirements in new designs. Examples of our solutions are found in the pictures and associated scientific papers in the blog roll of this project.