Development of multi-material phantoms and implanted monopole antennas for bone fracture monitoring

2019-05-13T11:35:07Z (GMT) by Simon Symeonidis
This thesis presents a novel method for monitoring the healing of severe bone fractures. This would be particularly useful during the first two to four weeks after trauma where x-ray and computerised tomography scanning cannot provide an accurate indication regarding the healing status of the fractured bone. The technique involves measuring the radiofrequency transmission from one bone-implanted monopole to another, each one located on either side of the bone fracture. Throughout this thesis, it is envisaged that the monopoles will also act as the screws of an external fixation implanted into patients for the stabilization and alignment of the bone fragments. To replicate a simplified version of a human limb, several multi-material semi-solid phantoms were developed to represent bone marrow, bone cortical, blood and muscle. Medical literature indicates that the amount of blood found at the initial stage of a bone fracture decreases as bone regeneration takes place towards the healed state. The rate of change of the 𝑆21 of the implanted monopoles over time was shown to provide a tool that allowed the estimation of the amount of blood (hematoma) inside any bone fracture. In this thesis it has been shown that as the effective dielectric properties of the investigated fractured area shifted from the dielectric properties of blood towards the properties of bone, the 𝑆21 of the monopoles increased, thus, this technique can be used to indicate bone healing. The simulated results were validated in measurements using several multi-material phantoms and a real lamb joint. Finally, an analytical model on the approximation of the 𝑆21 of the monopoles in the near field inside the multi-material phantoms was developed. The results showed good agreement over the frequency spectrum of 1 to 4GHz and reasonable agreement over the parametric investigation of separation distance between them for the range of 1 to 7cm. This will potentially allow the application of the proposed technique for special types of fractures where the screws of the external fixation are separated by different distances.