PhD Studentship: Acoustic emission of the knee joint for prediction of implant failure

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University of Southampton
Job Info
Job Status: Expired
No of Vacancies: 1
Date Posted: November 29, 2017
Expiry Date: May 11, 2018
Job Type: PhD
Job Level: Any
Salary Info
Salary Type: Negotiable
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Engineering & the Environment

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:   Friday 11 May 2018
Reference:  870317F2

Project Reference: EngSci-BIO-310

Total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is a common surgical procedure with good success rates after 10 years. However, complications such as infection, aseptic loosening, and postoperative pain are known risks and indications for revision surgery, with aseptic loosening being by far the most prevalent complication. The clinical and economic burden associated with revision surgery is significant. In the US alone, over 55,000 revision surgeries were performed in 2010, with 48% of them in patients under 65 years. Total costs associated with each revision TKA surgery are estimated to be in excess of $49,000. While this gives an average idea, the cost of revision can vary widely according to the extent of trauma in the knee joint. Several factors can exacerbate these figures; younger patients may need more than one revision surgery in their lifetime, so ensuring there is minimal trauma within the joint prior to any revision surgery is essential if the follow up implant is to perform successfully. Average life expectancy is increasing, along with average BMI, so there is an increased likelihood that TKA patients will need further surgeries. The proposed project builds on existing work between PANCOM and the Bioengineering group, where an acoustic emission based method of detecting the health of intact (i.e. non implanted) knees was developed. This ‘discriminator’ method successfully predicted arthritic and healthy knees in a series of blind tests. In the proposed project, this expertise will be exploited further to develop a means of predicting the degree of wear (a common indicator of aseptic loosening) of implanted TKA components. This is somewhat challenging as the predictor will have to distinguish between mechanical wear and soft tissue damage in a mechanically noisy environment, and compensate for high degrees of signal attenuation often prevalent in TKA patients with high BMI and commensurate soft tissue around the joint.

The project has the support of a micro SME acoustic emission company, PANCOM, and has strong interest from a major orthopaedic company and surgeons, who are keen to develop an ‘early warning’ system, capable of identifying component damage before excessive soft tissue trauma is established within the joint.

The ideal candidate will have some experience of signal processing/matlab programming/machine learning/principal component analysis. Not all are essential as training will be provided if needed.

The work will involve contact with the general public, so a personable nature would be advantageous. The successful candidate will have a willingness to learn, organisational skills, a can-do attitude, and a drive to overcome challenges in the pursuit of the project goal.

There will be secondments at the company partner (PANCOM Ltd, Cambs) and there will be periods of research conducted at the local private hospital with TKA patients.

A minimum 2:1 in a related engineering discipline is essential.

The stipend will cover 100% funded for fees and living costs at EPSRC rates for UK candidates.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Prof Martin Browne, Bioengineering Science research group, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 3279.

To apply, please use the following website:

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