Bringing Further Insight in Thermal Processes into the Area of Fracture Healing and Joint Life Cycle
Supervisor: Dr Olga Ganilova

Recent research and clinical data have demonstrated that human joints such as knees and hips may accumulate heat while the subject is walking due to frictional effects. It was found that average peak temperatures could reach the level of 43oC after an hour's walk and in some individual cases, or while jogging, the temperature in the synovial fluid may rise even further.

This heat accumulation causes thermal damage in the joint's surrounding soft and hard tissues and may lead to the bone in the acetabulum being endangered. It could contribute to implant loosening, and cause thermal damage of the joint capsule. So far, there has been no research directly devoted to the study of thermal effects and possible damage in the joint site. Therefore the project proposed will concentrate on thermal changes in the joint area with the purpose of developing an extended thermo-mechanical model.

As well as this, over a million fractures occur each year in the UK alone. Approximately 5-10 per cent of them are characterised by impaired healing, which leads to a great deal of suffering for the patient. Currently there is no effective way of assessing whether the fracture is healing satisfactorily. Therefore it would be extremely advantageous to be able to detect impaired healing at an early stage so that an appropriate procedure could be performed on the fracture to facilitate the healing.

As a result, the proposed project will also look at the healing processes of the fracture to investigate whether thermal changes around the fracture could be considered as indicators for the healing process monitoring, providing completely new data and techniques for developing the method and design for a device capable of monitoring the fracture repair processes.

The main aim of the research proposed for the project is to develop the model of thermal processes in the fracture site and surrounding soft tissues, as well as developing an extended thermo-mechanical model of the joint and surrounding tissues. The results of the research will contribute to general improvements of fracture healing monitoring and early stage joint inflammation detection.
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