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Medical Engineering Masters Research Project: Extended abstract, Queen Mary, University of London

  1. Read the task in Box 1.
  2. Download each of the pdfs and read them. Keep these open so you can refer to them as you watch the video.
  3. Watch the video.

Step 1

The Task

Medical Engineering Masters Research Project: Extended abstract, Queen Mary, University of London

Masters in Medical Engineering students conduct a research / design project. This is a year long project for which groups also produce a State of the Art Report, a Final Technical Report and an Executive Summary, (see separate collections for Executive Summary and State of the Art Report).

To help them start thinking about the project aims and objectives, students are required to write an extended abstract. This group activity covers a number of points. Students need to identify the topic of the research; explain the value of the research and previous work done in the area; identify the limitations / problems of the previous work and the possible solutions to the limitations, thus finding a gap in published research. This process allows the group to decide the aims and objectives of the project and identify the methods to be used in the study during the first few weeks of Semester One.

Step 2


Text 1 - Lithotripsy

The human urinary system consists of two main passageways: the ureters, which allow the flow of urine from the kidneys to the bladder, and the urethra through which urine is excreted from the body (Tortora and Derrickson, 2006). Due to various urinary disorders, ranging from kidney stones and urinary strictures to prostate enlargement and cancer, these passageways become obstructed (Vanderbrink et al., 2008). Urinary tract obstruction increases the risk of infection, stone formation and can result in functional renal impairment or permanent renal atrophy (Thomas and Stanley, 2007).

Urinary stents are implanted both in the ureters and the urethra, to prevent and treat urinary tract obstruction (Vanderbrink et al., 2008). The early urological stents were mainly composed of non-metallic materials (Slepian and Yachia, 2004). The current standard stent is the non-metallic Double J stent, first introduced in the 1970s (Slepian and Yachia, 2004). In the recent years metallic stents, similar to those used in cardiology have been developed and are successfully used in clinical conditions (Slepian and Yachia, 2004). The Memokath (MK) stent is a nickel-titanium (Nitinol) wire coil stent, which exhibits thermal shape memory properties (Harboe and Nordling, 2004). When flushed with cold saline at approximately 10°C, the MK stent becomes ‘super soft’ and uncoils easily, thus permitting easy, non-traumatic removal (Harboe, 2004).

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Text 2 - Porous Hierarchical Hydroxyapatite

Bone grafting is traditionally the procedure used to replace missing bone or repair bony defects (Czitrom & Gross, 1992; Meeder & Eggers, 1994). Moreover, grafts are used to reinforce the repaired area by encouraging new bone growth into the defect site. Ideally the newly formed bone would, with time, penetrate and replace much of the graft through a process known as remodelling (Sikavitsas et al., 2001), a phenomenon in which old bone is sequentially removed by phagocytic cells.

So far, bone surgeons have implemented three techniques for bone repair: autografting (healthy bone tissue taken from the patient’s own body), allografting (healthy bone tissue taken from a donor) and synthetic bone graft substitutes (artificial biomaterial similar to bone). Autografting is considered as the ‘gold’ standard. However the volume of bone that can be safely harvested is limited and the additional surgical procedure may be complicated by donor site pain and morbidity. Modern allografting using materials stored at regulated bone banks overcome these difficulties. However, healing can be unpredictable and there are concerns regarding disease transfer (Le Guéhennec et al., 2004; Hing et al., 2007; Togawa, Bauer, Lieberman & Sakai, 2004). In view of the limitations of biologically-derived grafts, synthetic bone substitutes have been developed and clinically used (Le Guéhennec et al., 2004). The aim of such substitutes is to interact in an appropriate manner with their bio-surroundings and mimic the properties of bone (Guéhennec et al., 2004).

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Text 3 - intervertebral disc

Lower back pain is one of the most common problems associated with the spine. The spine consists of a number of bony elements called vertebrae and a fibrocartilage tissue that is positioned in between each vertebrae being the intervertebral disc (IVD). IVD is responsible of transferring loads and giving flexibility to the spine (Nerurkar, et al., 2010). The different types of stresses and loads the IVD is subjected to are dynamic, static loads and torsional loads along with shear, tensile, compressive stresses (Jongeneelen, 2006). The disc consists of three components; nucleus pulposus (NP), annulus fibrosis (AP) and cartilage end plates (CEP). The extracellular matrix structure and mechanical behaviour vary between these segments. Each part experiences different mechanical loading and responds in dissimilar ways to shear, compression and tension (Guilak, et al., 1999).

The main cause of lower back pain is believed to be the degeneration of this intervertebral disc, usually known as “disc degeneration disease” (O'Halloran, et al., 2007). Significant changes occur in the IVD due to trauma, aging and various diseases which lead to the degeneration of the disc. The main factor of this is thought to be the exposure of the spine to excessive mechanical loading over a long period of time.

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Step 3

Step 4

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