Lumbar arthrodesis or spinal fusion is usually performed to relieve back pain, and regain functionality from degenerative disc disease, trauma, etc. Fusion is determined from radiographic images (X-ray) or computed tomography scans, yet these inspection procedures are subjective methods of review. As a result, exploratory surgery is performed if the presence of fusion cannot be confirmed. Therefore, a need exists to provide objective data to determine the presence of fusion that could avoid the cost, pain, and risk of exploratory surgery. One method to achieve this objective is to observe bending strain from spinal rods implanted during surgery. A system has been developed that will attach to the spinal instrumentation rods, transmit strain information wirelessly, and without the use of batteries. Major components of the system include a strain transferring sensor housing, a microelectromechanical (MEMS)-based strain sensor, telemetry circuitry, and antennae. Only discussed herein are the design, testing, and results of the housing without a cover and its ability to transfer strain from the rod to an internal surface where a foil strain gage is attached to characterize strain transfer efficiency. Strain gauges rather than the MEMS sensor were employed for housing characterization due cost and limited availability. Design constraints for the housing are long-term implantation, small size, greater than 95% transfer of bending strain from the spinal rods to the internal strain sensor, and ease of installation. ABAQUS finite element modeling software was employed to develop a working model that was fabricated using polyetheretherkeytone. The housing underwent cycle testing in a material testing system to simulate long-term implantation along with static testing to determine if creep was present. Both series of tests showed that the housing’s response did not degrade over a period of time and there was no indication of creep. The experimental results also validated the results of the ABAQUS finite element model.
Development of a Strain Transferring Sensor Housing for a Lumbar Spinal Fusion Detection System
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Aebersold, J. W., Hnat, W. P., Voor, M. J., Puno, R. M., Jackson, D. J., Lin, J. T., Walsh, K. M., and Naber, J. F. (September 5, 2006). "Development of a Strain Transferring Sensor Housing for a Lumbar Spinal Fusion Detection System." ASME. J. Med. Devices. June 2007; 1(2): 159–164. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.2735971
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