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Biomedical Engineering

Intelligent artificial intervertebral disc prosthesis for the assessment of in vivo lumbar spinal loading/stresses

Principle investigator

Professor P. A. Kyriacou


Mr J. Yeah, The Royal London Hospital


Dr M. Pancholi

Project overview

Back pain alone costs the U.K. £3.8 billion per year and £1.4 billion in social benefits. In the past few years, there has been a 700% increase in the choice of inter-vertebral disc prostheses for implantation. The monitoring of these prostheses in vivo to check on the condition of the spine remains rudimentary. We are pursuing the production of an implantable sensor within such prostheses to monitor actual ongoing stresses and strains within the spine. Our sensor will provide in vivo information enabling the efficient and effective wireless communication of stress and strain data. This uses City, University of London's experience in sensors and its knowledge of and contacts in the medical field to solve an existing problem. The new intelligent implantable disc will inform patients of any excessive physical movements which might compromise the smooth postoperative treatment. The new technology will also enable the surgeons to provide better postsurgical management and assessment on the implantable disc as they will be able to quantify the post-surgical treatment. The results from this new technology will enable spinal implantable manufacturers to develop better implants, which will have a direct impact on future patients. The benefits to the wider community are clear - to those individuals to whom treatment offers direct benefits, but also to their families and carers and to industry, where employees can return to work more rapidly.