Medical AMRC helps launch new sports injury solution

Posted on 6 Jan 2017 by Jonny Williamson

Researchers from the Medical Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) have helped an innovative orthopaedic products company develop a new type of surgical screw that improves the process for surgeons and the lives of their patients.

Innovate Orthopaedics (IO) asked the Medical AMRC – part of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing – to evaluate two new designs it had developed for specialised orthopaedic screws.

The development is the brain child of world leading surgeons and IO, a new partnership launched to challenge the status quo in the orthopaedic sports medicine market by developing products that directly incorporate the insights and experience world leading sports surgeons have gained in the operating theatre to solve problems.

One of the prototypes of the new orthopaedic screw - image courtesy of Medical AMRC.
One of the prototypes of the new orthopaedic screw – image courtesy of Medical AMRC.

The screws are designed for specific surgical procedures, including reconstructing the knee’s anterior cruciate ligament, which can be torn during sports that involve sudden stops and changes in direction, such as football, tennis, skiing, and basketball. Reconstruction is carried out by inserting a piece of healthy tendon in place and securing it to the bone with a screw, over which the bone will grow.

Marcus Crossley, from the Medical AMRC, explained: “We worked with IO to combine different aspects of their two designs and create one universal design that reduced the force needed to insert the screw while maintaining fixation.”

“The benefits of using the new screw don’t stop there, however. It helps the surgeon by engaging more rapidly with the ligament and bone when it is inserted and reduces the fatigue experienced by the surgeon and minimises damage to the replacement ligament”.

The Medical AMRC showed how the universal design could be used to produce a wide range of screw sizes and worked with AMRC partner Star Micronics to develop the complex and unique CNC program that allowed prototype screws to be produced on a Star Micronics sliding head lathe.

Tooling predominantly came from another AMRC partner, Sandvik Coromant and the Medical AMRC also helped IO choose Sheffield Precision Medical to carry out trial production runs and develop the complete range of screws.

Huddersfield-based IO’s founder, Alex Gutteridge commented: “Clinical tests have produced extremely positive results and we are already seeing demand rising among British and international surgeons, who see the benefit of using these innovative, new designs.

“The Medical AMRC didn’t only help us refine our designs and take them into production. It also helped us to create patentable technology which can be further protected by design registration and enabled us to quickly gain ISO 13485 medical devices quality approval and European CE marking.”