Next Generation Bone Implant for the Elderly

Knowledge Exchange Video

Next Generation Bone Implant for the Elderly


Patients suffering from large joint fractures need to undergo surgery to have their broken bones realigned. Surgeons use bone screws to help realign broken bones and allow them to heal, usually over about 3 months.

Elderly patients, especially those suffering from osteoporosis, have very soft bone tissue, which means that sometimes these bone screws, made of rigid steel or titanium metal, break through the bone when elderly people take a step, fall, or even just stand upright. This is very painful and can lead to follow-up surgery.

A research team at the Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, comprising Sloan Kulper, Dr Christian Fang, Dr Erica Ueda Boles, Professor Frankie Leung and Professor William Lu, has developed a new bone implant technology to address this problem. The Fang-Kulper Anti-Migration Tip is a bone implant technology designed to help elderly patients recover more quickly and safely from broken hips, shoulders, and spinal fractures.

Our bone screw has a tip made of soft medical-grade rubber that acts like a "pillow" that spreads out the pressure between the screw and bone tissue. Once inserted, the rubber tip is designed to expand sideways, creating a snug fit between the screw and the bone.

Our bone screw offers a more gentle approach to bone fracture repair, which means that elderly patients can heal quickly, protecting their relatively delicate bones from future fractures. Advantages over existing anti-cutout methods include elimination of cement augmentation risks, shortened surgical time, and reduced severity of complications due to operator error.

This technology can be applied at minimal cost to commonly-used trauma and spine implants for patients with osteoporotic bone, improving biomechanical stability while reducing post-surgical complication rates. Preclinical tests showed 95% less migration in femoral neck fixation using humeral/femoral locking screws, dynamic hip screws, and hip nails.

This device is being commercialised by Lifespans, Ltd., a startup founded by the HKU research team.