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Queen's computer-assisted surgery projects receive NSERC funding

James Stewart
James Stewart, School of Computing

Two Queen’s research projects looking at improved outcomes for joint surgery have received National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) funding. James Stewart and Randy Ellis (School of Computing) each received close to $300,000 over the next three years.

Dr. Stewart and his team are developing computer-assisted surgical methods that allow surgeons to perform cartilage repair by mapping a damaged knee and pinpointing ideal locations for cartilage removal. To repair damage to the knee, healthy cartilage is removed from a non-load-bearing area of the knee and is transplanted to the damaged area. Surgeons currently do this by eye, often with varied results. The new technology should lead to more consistent and reliable results. Ideally, cartilage repair will reduce the need for total knee replacements, and allow people 50 and under the freedom to remain active despite their injuries.

“It’s a good option because it’s a smaller operation than a total knee replacement and it can treat people earlier,” says Dr. Stewart.

Randy Ellis and his team are working to advance the understanding of hip motion to improve surgical performance for hip replacement.

“Our idea is novel and simple,” says Dr. Ellis. “It is the motion of a patient’s hip, and not the highly variable anatomy, that should guide component placement in hip-replacement surgery. An improved understanding of how an arthritic hip moves may lead to strategies for preventing arthritis, as well as improving surgical treatment.”

Although hip replacement is a common and usually successful surgery for advanced hip arthritis, many secondary surgeries are often required, most often because of failures that can be traced to improper component placement. Dr. Ellis and his team hope to eliminate the need for these revisionary surgeries.

This project is a collaborative effort between Queen’s and Johns Hopkins University.

The funding under the NSERC/CIHR Collaborative Health Research Program (CHRP) will support student research and materials for both projects.