Spinal and orthopaedic surgery are two of the most common types of surgery in the world. Both types of surgery involve the treatment of the musculoskeletal system, which includes the bones, muscles, and joints.

Spinal surgery is used to treat a variety of conditions, including herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and spinal tumors. Orthopaedic surgery is used to treat a variety of conditions, including fractures, dislocations, and arthritis.

Both spinal and orthopaedic surgery have made significant advances in recent years, thanks to the development of new surgical tools and devices. These new tools and devices have made surgery safer and more effective, and have helped to improve the quality of life for millions of people.

Some of the most advanced spinal and orthopaedic surgical tools and devices include:

Robotic surgery systems: Robotic surgery systems allow surgeons to remotely or directly perform complex surgery procedures with greater precision and accuracy.

Custom spinal screws: Custom spinal screws incorporate small sensors that measure torque and strain in implantable screws and rods used in spinal surgery.  These sensors can help surgeons to place screws and rods in the correct position and to ensure that they are not over- or under-loaded. 

What are spinal pedicle screws?

Pedicle screws are a type of bone screw that have been used in spinal surgery since the 1960s. They are inserted into the pedicles of the vertebrae, which are the bony projections that surround the spinal cord. Pedicle screws are used to fuse the vertebrae together, which can provide stability and pain relief for patients with spinal disorders.

Pedicle screws are typically placed above and below the vertebrae that are being fused. A rod is then used to connect the screws, which prevents the vertebrae from moving and allows the bone graft to heal. After the fusion is complete, the screws and rods can be removed. However, this is not always necessary, and they can sometimes be left in place indefinitely.

Pedicle screws are an important part of spinal surgery that have helped to improve the lives of millions of people. They are a safe and effective way to treat spinal disorders, and they can provide patients with the relief they need from pain and instability.

What are the challenges with using traditional spinal screws?

Pedicle screws can be used in the thoracic and sacral spine, but they are most commonly used in the lumbar spine. The surgeon uses fluoroscopy or conventional X-ray to determine the depth and angle for screw placement. A receiving channel is drilled and the screw is inserted.

Drilling and positioning a screw into the spine is a complex and delicate procedure. Even with image guidance, there is a risk of the screw missing the vertebrae and damaging surrounding tissue or nerves. This risk is about 15%.

Despite the risks, pedicle screws are a safe and effective way to treat spinal disorders. They can provide patients with relief from pain and instability, and they can help to prevent further damage to the spine.

Hitec spinal screw sensor working with robotic surgery arm

Why are custom sensors important for Spinal Screws?

Spinal screws from around the world are equipped with sensors that measure torque and strain in implantable screws and rods used in spinal surgery. This data is used to help surgeons place screws and rods in the correct position and to ensure that they are not over- or under-loaded.

These screws and rods are also equipped with wireless transmitters that send data back to practitioners. This data can be used to monitor the forces and strains acting upon patients in real time, which can help to prevent complications and to ensure that patients are receiving the best possible care.

How do advanced spinal screws improve patient outcomes?

Advanced spinal screws that incorporate HITEC’s torque and strain sensors can ensure the correct size and position of the screws and rods; and help to reduce the risk of post-surgery complications.

The HITEC sensors measure the forces and strains that are applied to the spine during surgery, and the information from these sensors can be used to create a 3D map of the forces and strains that are applied to the spine. This information can be used to help surgeons to plan the surgery and to ensure that the screws and rods are placed in the correct position.

The advanced spinal screws can also be equipped with wireless transmitters that can send the data from the sensors to a computer or mobile device, where it can be monitored in real time. This can help surgeons to detect any problems with the screws or rods, and to take corrective action if necessary.

HITEC force sensors are typically made with bonded foil strain gauges in a Wheatsone bridge configuration, which produces an analog output signal when subjected to mechanical stress. The strength of the signal is proportional to the force or strain that is applied.

The information from HITEC force sensors can be used to create a 3D map of the forces and strains that are applied to the spine. This information can be used to help surgeons to plan the surgery and to ensure that the screws and rods are placed in the correct position.

In stabilisation procedures, sensor enabled technologies can reduce the risk of post-surgery complications caused by slipping hardware or an improper fusion.

Benefits also include reduced risk of damage to surrounding areas along with minimised infection, inflammation and irritation. 

HITEC’s range of spinal screw sensors

HITEC provides a variety of implantable torque and strain sensors for spinal screws and rods. If your application requires a custom sensor, we can modify an existing sensor or design a new one for you. We can also help you with the design and manufacturing of your sensor from concept to production.

Why work with HITEC?

With over 50 years’ experience in force measurement and sensor design, as well as our world leading team of engineers, HITEC offers;

  • Longevity, expertise and global support
  • Standard and bespoke torque sensors
  • Installation support and calibration
  • Our standard products are suitable for use with torque loads ranging from 25 to 7000 ft-lbs with further range possible with customization
  • Excellent hysteresis of 0.1 % of the full scale capacity
  • Robust and accurate strain gauge sensor design
  • Solutions for harsh operating conditions

Our process of creating custom sensors starts with an in-depth analysis of your application/project with our team of application engineers. Using advanced modelling software our team create a design that meets the exact performance requirements of the customer. After the initial ideas have been reviewed and approved, it is then time to create the prototype for qualification testing and once a customer is satisfied with the product, the design is then transferred to OEM production. It’s that easy!

Working closely with our customers allows us to create the most suitable solutions as precisely as possible, whether your application is a one-off project or a large-scale repeatable order, we are here to help!

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