Femur surgery breakthrough

Life & Health

Your next fractured bone could someday soon be easier to fix with a new invention created by an unlikely group.

Doctor Ashvin Dewan has been there. A patient is in the ER. And he’s called in to fix their broken femur. It’s a rush against time.

Ashvin K. Dewan, MD, said, “So the stress is building.”

But when it comes to a long bone surgery, time isn’t on his side. The surgery involves placing a rod in the patient’s leg and securing the rod through a hole at the bottom. That means drilling blind through hard bone.

Ashvin K. Dewan, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon, Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, “It’s kind of like threading a needle with thread, but the only differences you’re trying to thread the needle from 50 feet away.”

Currently, doctors use a series of x-rays to help them find the hole in the rod but it’s a time-consuming process.

Doctor Dewan said, “As I’m taking these multiple x-rays the pressure is mounting.”

It exposes patients and staff to more radiation. And then there’s the risk of missing.

Doctor Dewan said, “I was just like there needs to be a better way to do this.”

So Doctor Dewan turned to an unlikely group: Five undergraduate students at his alma mater, Rice University.

Ian Frankel , Rice University Senior, Mechanical Engineering Major, said, “It was many, many weeks of getting better and better and better.”

The students invented a device that locates the hole in the rod by detecting magnetic fields.

Doctor Dewan believes it could shorten the process by 60 to 80 percent saving valuable time. When it matters most.

Dewan said, “So I think that’s a substantial improvement in the existing process and I think it really could benefit the patient.”

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