Development of a magnetic targeting device applied to interlocking of distal intramedullary nail screw holes

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Virginia Tech


Each year, thousands of femoral and tibial internal fracture repairs are performed by orthopedic surgeons in the United States. Internal fixation of long bones using intramedullary nails (IMN) has decreased incidence of non-union, allowed shorter hospitalization time, and earlier weight bearing for the patient compared to other fixation methods. Orthopedic surgeons have expressed that one of the most difficult parts of this intramedullary nailing of long bones, is locating and drilling the interlocking screw holes. IMN interlocking requires the surgeon to locate the holes in the nail, center the drill, and advance the bit through the bone to meet them.

Many novel procedures and devices have been developed to assist the surgeon in distal locking of intramedullary nails, but have some disadvantages. These can include the need for extensive x-ray exposure, expensive x-ray equipment, high power consumption, active electronics in vivo, soft tissue damage, which all lead to inaccurate screw placement. For these reasons, a new prototype device for locating and drilling IMN distal interlocking holes has been developed. This prototype device uses magnetic sensors to locate a permanent magnet placed at a know distance from the IMN interlocking hole. A drill sleeve may be attached to the targeting sensors so that when they are aligned with the target magnet, the drill sleeve is aligned with the axis of the interlocking hole to be drilled. This new prototype device has significant advantages over existing devices, including the following. It has no active or passive electronics in vivo, no x-ray imaging is needed for targeting, while allowing real time feedback of alignment. It is a percutaneous technique, which can be adapted for use with existing IMN's. The new prototype also has low power requirements allowing battery operation, a single target magnet with unique axisymmetric field and novel magnet orientation, and adjustable sensitivity. Additionally, the new device allows visual, audible, or tactile positioning feedback. This prototype magnetic targeting device can improve orthopedic surgeons' ability to target and drill distal IMN interlocking screw holes. This device may allow shorter surgery, decreased x-ray exposure, and fewer complications for the surgeon and patient.



Distal Interlocking, Intramedullary Nailing, Magnetic Targeting