Lero, IT Tralee and Bon Secours announce research programme to enhance hip replacement surgery

Dr. Daniel Riordan, Lero researcher IT Tralee and Mr John Rice, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Bon Secours Hospital

Lero, the SFI Irish Software Research Centre and IT Tralee have announced a €223,500 programme with Bon Secours Hospital Tralee (BSHT) which could advance the future use of robotics to perform hip replacement operations.

The initial goal of the initiative, which is backed by Science Foundation Ireland, will be to develop a more accurate way for surgeons to place a hip joint so as to minimise a patient’s hospital stay and avoid re-admittance due to issues arising from the operation. IT Tralee is looking to hire a PhD student to join the five-person research team.

“Going forward, advancements in robotic technology will allow many surgical procedures to be undertaken by autonomous systems. A vital component of this for Total Hip Arthroplasty (THA) will be to identify and ensure the correct alignment of the artificial joint and the outer bone,” commented Dr. Joseph Walsh, Head of School of STEM and Lero researcher at IT Tralee who is heading the research team.

“Software is playing an increasingly important role in medicine,” added Dr. Daniel Riordan, Lero researcher at IT Tralee. “Our research will seek to establish whether audio or vibrational resonances from the receiving femur can be used to improve outcomes in hip replacement surgery. We will then analyse these signals using Digital Signal Processing (DSP) algorithms to ensure the optimum placing of the hip joint.” 

Mr John Rice, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Bon Secours Hospital Tralee added, “Hip replacement involves the creation of a cavity in the femur canal into which the stem section is inserted. This process is referred to as reaming. At the moment surgeons use their skill and experience to determine the correct size of the cavity. Over reaming has the potential to fracture the femur which is why it will be a great step forward if we can use technology to objectively determine the correct size and tension of the cavity.”

TJ O’Connor, Manager of the Bon Secours Hospital Tralee, added, “This project is one of three software engineering research projects on which we are collaborating with IT Tralee and Lero. These projects focus on introducing advanced technology to help ensure excellence in patient care and are further evidence of our commitment to make the latest technologies available to the community that we serve.”

“This will be an exciting project to work on. We are looking for a PhD student with bio or mechanical engineering skills to join our team,” added Mr. Bob Jackson (Lecturer in Multimedia, IT Tralee).

The Bon Secours Health System is the largest private healthcare provider in Ireland, comprising five hospitals in Tralee, Cork, Dublin, Galway and Limerick and a Care Village in Cork.  With over 3,000 staff, 876 beds and 410 consultants, Bon Secours treats more than 280,000 patients per year and plans to invest in excess of €150 million over the next five years in expanding its current services.  

Lero, the SFI Irish Software Research Centre (www.lero.ie), which is the only centre which combines researchers from all Republic of Ireland universities, is funded by Science Foundation Ireland as well as by contracts from Irish and international technology corporations.