X-ray-based machine vision system for distal locking of intramedullary nails

In surgical procedures for femoral shaft fracture treatment, current techniques for locking the distal end of intramedullary nails, using two screws, rely heavily on the use of two-dimensional X-ray images to guide three-dimensional bone drilling processes. Therefore, a large number of X-ray images are required, as the surgeon uses his/her skills and experience to locate the distal hole axes on the intramedullary nail. The long-term effects of X-ray radiation and their relation to different types of cancer still remain uncertain. Therefore, there is a need to develop a surgical technique that can limit the use of X-rays during the distal locking procedure. A robotic-assisted orthopaedic surgery system has been developed at Loughborough University to assist orthopaedic surgeons by reducing the irradiation involved in such operations. The system simplifies the current approach as it uses only two near-orthogonal X-ray images to determine the drilling trajectory of the distal locking holes, thereby considerably reducing irradiation to both the surgeon and patient. Furthermore, the system uses robust machine vision features to reduce the surgeon's interaction with the system, thus reducing the overall operating time. Laboratory test results have shown that the proposed system is very robust in the presence of variable noise and contrast in the X-ray images.