Summary: Come and join the exciting area of bioengineering research to help innovate orthopaedic surgical technology. You will work in the leading medical implant retrieval research group, at the largest university in Europe (ranked 1st for Bioengineering), onsite at the largest orthopaedic hospital in the UK. You will use state-of-the-art imaging, computational and measurement technology and work directly with leading orthopaedic surgeons to optimise implant design, surgical procedure and clinical outcome in patients. You will have access to engineering equipment and expertise across all UCL sites (e.g. at Stanmore and central London). You will regularly visit operating theatres, attend multi-disciplinary clinical team meetings (led by surgeons, radiologists and arthroplasty practitioners) and have opportunities to interact with patients. You will develop an understanding of the use of clinical tests and imaging (e.g. X-rays and CT scans) in helping to interpret your engineering analysis. This studentship is fully funded with a generous London stipend and all fees paid for; there are also opportunities to earn extra income. You will be supported in personal and professional development through the many courses available at UCL. Students in our team regularly publish papers and give podium talks at international conferences and you will be supported in doing the same.
Career Opportunities: You will complete this PhD with: (1) a track-record of peer-reviewed publications, (2) an expertise in implant, imaging and computational analysis methods and (3) an ability to interact with engineers and surgeons of all levels. This will offer you a strong foundation for building an academic career but equally, your experience will position you very well for a successful career in industry, where clinical knowledge in engineers is sought after (we have worked with all major orthopaedic manufacturers).
Background: The Magnetic Expansion Control (MAGEC) rod is used for the treatment of early onset scoliosis. Early clinical results are promising with fewer complications than patients with traditional growth rods. However, one third have still reported complications with many of these requiring an unplanned early implant revision. Our centre is leading research aimed at improving the performance of orthopaedic implants by working closely with surgeons and engineers. Retrieval analysis of removed implants can help understanding of their failure mechanisms and identify common surgeon, implant or patient risk factors for early failure.
In addition to understanding devices failures, our research focus aims at improving surgical planning, patient management and orthopaedic tools. The modern approach in total hip arthroplasty is moving forward a more targeted treatment relying on the use of advanced image modalities for both diagnosis and treatment. Customised drill guides and replica plastic models of the bones and implants are being developed for intra-operative use the aim to allow surgeons to visualise the planned surgery juxtaposed with the patient’s anatomy. Our Orthopaedic Planning Lab (OPL) is leading research into developing clinical tools involving 3D-CT and MR imaging which can be used for optimising pre-operative planning, surgical procedure with the use of patient specific instrumentation (PSI) and designing of custom implants.
Research Questions: The focus of this project will be determined based on the research interests and skills of the successful candidate and will be based on either (1) retrieval analysis of MAGEC spine rods or (2) assessment of 3D-CT planning. Suggested research questions for both are:
1. Retrieval Analysis of MAGEC spine rods a. What are the surgical, implant or patient factors associated with early implant failure? b. What are the mechanisms of failure? c. How can implant issues be detected earlier?
2. 3D Orthopaedic Surgical Planning a. Intraoperative advantages and disadvantages; b. Postoperative alignment (image analysis); c. Cost effectiveness
Key Milestone Requirements of Project: You will be encouraged to attend UCL courses and will be supported in attending the relevant trainings. Your thesis will consist of at least 4 well-developed chapters, in addition to chapters discussing a detailed literature review, introduction and discussion. You will be expected to publish peer-reviewed papers for each chapter of your thesis.