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Conservative surgical treatment for osteoarthritis - a computational study

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Research Group:
Medical Engineering Research Group -
Future Cities Research Network -

Proposed supervisory team: Dr Rajshree Hillstrom ()

Theme: Quality of Life, Assisted living, Medical Engineering

Summary of the research project

Osteoarthritis (OA), a debilitating and degenerative joint disease, is the leading cause of physical disability in the elderly, accounts for 1% of total deaths worldwide, affects 27% and 34% of men and women over 50 years and exceeds 1% of the gross national product in the UK and the USA. Joint malalignment, obesity and tissue injury are primary factors associated with osteoarthritis onset and progression. Excessive joint stress is the common pathway that damages joint tissues, irrespective of the specific biomechanical aetiology. There are no cures for OA, it only gets worse over time.

Common treatments address early- and late-stage OA, although moderate-stage OA is the most prevalent. Early-stage OA treatments include pharmaceutical products, insoles, knee braces and physiotherapy. Late-stage OA treatments include joint replacements, which are expensive, require aggressive surgeries and need long recovery times. Revision joint replacements are more expensive and less successful. The need for revision joint replacements can be reduced by delaying the need for primary joint replacement surgeries.

In collaboration with the Hospital for Special Surgery, we have developed and validated a finite element knee model (Mootanah et al., 2014 - CMBBE), funded by Chelmsford Medical Education and Research Trust (CMERT), to predict improved surgical fixation techniques for moderate OA, such as high tibial osteotomy and partial meniscectomy, by evaluating stress distribution in the knee joint. The need for total joint replacement surgery can be delayed by improving clinical outcomes for moderate OA.

Our Arthritis Research UK funded project shows wide variations in knee geometries. Our earlier CMERT funded research on total hip replacement has demonstrated the need for different surgical fixation techniques for different bone morphologies. Hence, it is important to predict clinical outcomes of surgical fixation techniques for different knee morphologies to improve clinical outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.

Research questions

1. What are the effects of the knee morphology on surgical reconstruction techniques?
2. Predict improved surgical knee reconstruction techniques for different knee morphologies.

Research methods

Use our existing computational models to simulate surgical interventions for moderate OA, such as osteotomies, partial meniscectomies, joint distraction. Specialised software packages, including Mimics, 3-Matics, CATIA, ABAQUS and FEBio. Loading conditions for different functional activities will be applied to the models. Finite element models will be run for different surgical techniques and for the different bone morphologies. Stress analyses will be conducted to predict improved surgical treatments for knees of different morphologies. Results of this study will help surgeons make informed clinical decisions for improved clinical outcome.

Where you’ll study:

Chelmsford -

Next steps:

If you wish to be considered for this project, we strongly advise you contact the proposed supervisory team. You will also need to formally apply for our Engineering and the Built Environment PhD ( In the section of the application form entitled ’Outline research proposal’, please quote the above title and include a research proposal.

Funding Notes

This project is self-funded.

Details of studentships for which funding is available are selected by a competitive process and are advertised on our jobs website as they become available: View Website

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