My name is Martin Jaere, I am a Medical Doctor from Norway and currently undertaking a double masters; MA and MSc in Innovation Design Engineering (IDE) at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London. This summer I have been working as a research assistant with Dr Susannah Clarke at the MSK Lab on Patient Specific Instruments (PSI), which is one of the many exciting projects going on in the Lab.
The theory behind PSI is that new manufacturing processes can help improve the work of the surgeon when it comes to accuracy and time taken in the operating theatre; in addition to drastically reducing the number of surgical tools needed for the operation. The technology works by using custom made tools designed specifically for each patient from plans based on pre-operative radiological data. The tools, once designed, are then made by a 3D-printer from a bio-compatible polymer.
The technology of using computer engineered surgical plans has been developed in-house by Dr Simon Harris and his team, so there is the complete specific chain from assessment and planning, to manufacturing all under one roof. This is one of the benefits of an intimate research group, where we are all working cooperatively towards one goal – improve the patient specific experience and recovery when suffering with back, hip and knee disease.
This summer we have been working on tools for various surgical applications, but with an overall focus on knees and hips. Instead of having engineers and designers working in remote offices, we have developed an ‘open studio environment’ where the surgeons have been following our developments on a day-to-day basis, for them to make comments and suggestions on our work. This close cooperation with the orthopaedic surgeons has been key to our success, along with Prof Cobb’s insights and supervision, we have felt supported and confident to develop our design and product further.
I have had a really interesting summer at the Lab and feel both fortunate and happy to have been part of the team.