Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Academic

I can hardly believe that I'm a Senior in college. Time sure has gone by quickly. I've been looking forward to this year mainly because after working peddle to the metal for 3 straight years I had planned for this, my last year to be my easiest (full of slack classes). I'm taking fewer credits (15)than I have ever done in all of my college career, and to make things even easier, 3 of my 15 credits are a Conversational Italian Class! It's really not even fair. I just sit back and listen and never have to study ever! I actually finished my quiz last week in less than 15 minutes, and I walked out thinking 100% no doubt about it! That, my friends is an awesome feeling.

Even though I am taking fewer credits than ever, strangely, I seem to be busier than ever! Most of my time has been devotes to my Senior Design Project, which involves developing a device that will help surgeons treat ankle arthritis. Below is a copy of the project proposal that my partner and I will submit to the School of Engineering for approval. (After I finished reading this I couldn't believe that this stuff came out of my must have made me smart or something because it sounds like something out of a textbook!)

Design a Jig Guiding Insertion of Three Screws for Ankle Arthrodesis
Designers: Hieu Ta and Bradley Zentgraf

Arthritis is a painful degenerative condition associated with biological joints. Arthritis of the ankle alters normal ankle biomechanics, causing pain and discomfort. Due to its degenerative nature, ankle arthritis must be resolved through some form of non-operative or operative medical intervention. However, if associated pain persists or becomes debilitating, surgical intervention will be required. A wide assortment of surgical options exist, of which ankle arthrodesis has emerged as the “gold-standard.” All arthrodesis techniques require an adequate interface between bone surfaces to facilitate osseous integration and fusion. Additionally, union requires stabilization through some form of internal or external fixation. Research has indicated that ankle arthrodesis performed with three cannulated screws provides satisfactory stability and union. Challenges associated with three screw fixation techniques include allocating adequate space for screw insertion on joint interfaces, finding the optimal screw orientation and position, and creating reproducible results.

Objective/Proposed Solution:
Design a guide jig to aid in obtaining reproducible and optimal results in ankle fusion procedures. A successful jig design would optimize screw position and orientation, avoiding contact between the implanted screws, decreasing surgery time, increasing joint stability, decreasing the probability of malunion, possibly decreasing the amount of recovery time, and improving the overall quality of life for patients that undergo ankle arthrodesis.

Design a jig that will serve as a guide for surgeons in producing optimal results for three screw internal fixation techniques. This device will be able to create reproducible results in a wide variety of patients The device will first be designed and put through a series of simulations modeling soft tissue with the program SolidWorks. Modifications will be made to the device after testing. A testable prototype will then be constructed, and subsequently run through a series of bench tests involving PVC pipe, saw bone, and possibly a cadaver ankle. After each test, analysis will be performed and modifications made.

Expected Results:
Upon completion of this design project, a device will be constructed that will potentially increase the success rate of ankle arthrodesis and shorten the overall procedure. This system will potentially offer better treatment for those who suffer from ankle arthritis, and a more user-friendly treatment option for the surgeons who perform these procedures.