Those have undergone extensive back surgery and need repeated X-rays to monitor their progress may soon have access to a new technology that skips the X-rays and repeated radiation exposure, opting instead for an innovative, noninvasive, non-X-ray device that evaluates spinal movement. The technology was created and patented by two engineering undergraduate students who recently formed their own company to market the device.
The paper describing the technology appears in the current special issue of Technology and Innovation - Proceedings of the National Academy of Inventors-, and was presented at the Second Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors- hosted by the University of South Florida, last February 21-23, 2013.
"Surgical treatment is inevitable for some of the 80 percent of Americans who at some point in their lives suffer from back pain," said Kerri Killen of Versor, Inc. who, along with Samantha Music, developed the new technology while they were undergraduate students at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey. "We developed an evaluation device that uses battery powered sensors to evaluate spinal motion in three-dimensions. It not only reduces the amount of X-ray testing patients undergo but also has the potential to save over $5 billion per year nationwide in health care costs."
According to co-developer Music, there are 600,000 spinal surgeries every year in the U.S. with an annual exposure of 2,250 mrem of radioactivity per patient before and after surgery. The "electrogoniometer" they developed can be used by surgeons prior to patient surgery and after surgery and also used by physical therapists to further evaluate the progression of a patient's surgery. The technology can also be used in other orthopedic specialties to reduce both costs and eliminate X-ray exposure.