Home Health news NHS offers amputees new high-tech artificial limbs that clip straight into bone

NHS offers amputees new high-tech artificial limbs that clip straight into bone

by Martyn Jones
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NHS offers amputees new high-tech artificial limbs that clip straight into bone

NHS now offering amputees new high-tech artificial limbs that clip straight into bone, as first patient to undergo the surgery calls his new leg a ‘massive upgrade’ to pain-causing prosthetics

  • Amputees being offered high-tech prosthetic limbs by NHS that clip onto bone
  • Marc Collins, 60, from Surrey, lost left leg after a motorbike accident in 1979
  • He was first patient and says his new leg upgrade on ones which gave him sores 
  • Procedure called osseointegration is performed at  St George’s Hospital, London

A high-tech bone implant could radically improve the mobility of amputees.

Traditionally, prosthetic limbs attach to the body with a fibre socket that uses suction to grip to the stump, but it is often ill-fitting, leaving the skin irritated and prone to infection.

Now NHS doctors at St George’s Hospital in South London are performing a new procedure, which allows prosthetic legs and arms to anchor into the bone.

Surgeons insert a titanium implant into the stump, leaving a section protruding through the skin. This can then be easily attached to the prosthesis via a strong magnet. And this in turn boosts the wearer’s mobility by improving the limb’s rotation.

A high-tech bone implant could radically improve the mobility of amputees – as traditional prosthetics can cause sores and pain (file photo)

The first patient to undergo the new operation, known as osseointegration, has described the result as a ‘massive upgrade’.

Marc Collins, 60, from Ashford in Surrey, lost his left leg as a result of a motorbike accident in 1979.

Since then he has had dozens of different types of prosthetic limb, most of which have used sockets.

‘These left me with countless agonising sores that were so painful I couldn’t use the limb,’ says the married social care worker. ‘I’m delighted not to have to wear a socket any more.’

The technology has previously been used by British military surgeons, says Alex Trompeter, orthopaedic surgeon at St George’s Hospital.

He adds: ‘It was clear that those patients were recovering faster and experienced fewer complications and infections that are typical of the traditional procedures.’

NHS doctors at St George's Hospital (pictured) in South London are performing a new procedure, called osseointegration, which allows prosthetic legs and arms to anchor into bone

NHS doctors at St George’s Hospital (pictured) in South London are performing a new procedure, called osseointegration, which allows prosthetic legs and arms to anchor into bone

The operation takes between two and four hours. First, the stump is opened up and surgeons attach the titanium implant to the bone.

A small magnetic connector protrudes through the skin, which heals naturally around it.

‘It features a latch that the prosthesis clips on to – a bit like how an iPhone connects to its charger,’ says Professor Munjed Al Muderis, one of the orthopaedic surgeons who developed the procedure.

‘Osseointegration is like putting on a pair of slippers, as opposed to lacing up a pair of boots. It can take up to half an hour to make a traditional prosthetic limb fit using the suction device, whereas this one simply clips in. This technology is set to revolutionise the way that we treat amputees.’

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