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Published January 2012 | public
Journal Article

Nondestructive evaluation of orthopaedic implant stability in THA using highly nonlinear solitary waves


We propose a new biomedical sensing technique based on highly nonlinear solitary waves to assess orthopaedic implant stability in a nondestructive and efficient manner. We assemble a granular crystal actuator consisting of a one-dimensional tightly packed array of spherical particles, to generate acoustic solitary waves. Via direct contact with the specimen, we inject acoustic solitary waves into a biomedical prosthesis, and we nondestructively evaluate the mechanical integrity of the bone–prosthesis interface, studying the properties of the waves reflected from the contact zone between the granular crystal and the implant. The granular crystal contains a piezoelectric sensor to measure the travelling solitary waves, which allows it to function also as a sensor. We perform a feasibility study using total hip arthroplasty (THA) samples made of metallic stems implanted in artificial composite femurs using polymethylmethacrylate for fixation. We first evaluate the sensitivity of the proposed granular crystal sensor to various levels of prosthesis insertion into the composite femur. Then, we impose a sequence of harsh mechanical loading on the THA samples to degrade the mechanical integrity at the stem–cement interfaces, using a femoral load simulator that simulates aggressive, accelerated physiological loading. We investigate the implant stability via the granular crystal sensor–actuator during testing. Preliminary results suggest that the reflected waves respond sensitively to the degree of implant fixation. In particular, the granular crystal sensor–actuator successfully detects implant loosening at the stem–cement interface following violent cyclic loading. This study suggests that the granular crystal sensor and actuator has the potential to detect metal–cement defects in a nondestructive manner for orthopaedic applications.

Additional Information

© 2012 IOP Publishing Ltd. Received 10 August 2011, in final form 17 November 2011. Published 20 December 2011. We acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation, grants CMMI-825345 and CMMI-844540 (CAREER), and the e-Grubstake Program at Caltech.

Additional details

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