Surgical instruments for rapid removal of broken screws and time-efficient treatment of bone infections

Project number: 
UA Department of Biomedical Engineering
Academic year: 
Better instruments for orthopedic surgeons could shorten operating room times and improve surgical outcomes.

Cannulated screws only have threads at the end and can strip if the bone becomes infected or if too much torque is applied. The team designed a removal instrument that enables the surgeon to pull upward on the screw so that it engages uninfected bone and is then able to be unscrewed. The instrument’s two parts consist of a thin rod with a hook that enters the hollow screw through a hole, attaching to its bottom, and a handle that connects to the other end of the rod. The hook had to easily catch the screw’s end and fit through the screw, yet be strong enough to apply upward force without failing. The solid screw removal instrument is a unibody design consisting of a lever and a forked tip that encloses below the head of the buried screw. Pushing down on the lever raises the screw.

Orthopedic surgeons also need a more efficient method to remove infected tissue while simultaneously providing suction and irrigation. The team developed one instrument to perform all three functions by combining a curette, used for scaping tissue, with irrigation and suction systems. A unique design made the instrument easier to manufacture, and human ergonomics principles were incorporated into all the instruments to make them comfortable to use.

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