The feasibility of vibration analysis as a technique to detect osseointegration of transfemoral implants

Cairns, Nicola J. (2010) The feasibility of vibration analysis as a technique to detect osseointegration of transfemoral implants. PhD by Publication, Queensland University of Technology.


One of the main causes of above knee or transfemoral amputation (TFA) in the developed world is trauma to the limb. The number of people undergoing TFA due to limb trauma, particularly due to war injuries, has been increasing. Typically the trauma amputee population, including war-related amputees, are otherwise healthy, active and desire to return to employment and their usual lifestyle. Consequently there is a growing need to restore long-term mobility and limb function to this population. Traditionally transfemoral amputees are provided with an artificial or prosthetic leg that consists of a fabricated socket, knee joint mechanism and a prosthetic foot. Amputees have reported several problems related to the socket of their prosthetic limb. These include pain in the residual limb, poor socket fit, discomfort and poor mobility. Removing the socket from the prosthetic limb could eliminate or reduce these problems. A solution to this is the direct attachment of the prosthesis to the residual bone (femur) inside the residual limb. This technique has been used on a small population of transfemoral amputees since 1990. A threaded titanium implant is screwed in to the shaft of the femur and a second component connects between the implant and the prosthesis. A period of time is required to allow the implant to become fully attached to the bone, called osseointegration (OI), and be able to withstand applied load; then the prosthesis can be attached. The advantages of transfemoral osseointegration (TFOI) over conventional prosthetic sockets include better hip mobility, sitting comfort and prosthetic retention and fewer skin problems on the residual limb. However, due to the length of time required for OI to progress and to complete the rehabilitation exercises, it can take up to twelve months after implant insertion for an amputee to be able to load bear and to walk unaided. The long rehabilitation time is a significant disadvantage of TFOI and may be impeding the wider adoption of the technique. There is a need for a non-invasive method of assessing the degree of osseointegration between the bone and the implant. If such a method was capable of determining the progression of TFOI and assessing when the implant was able to withstand physiological load it could reduce the overall rehabilitation time. Vibration analysis has been suggested as a potential technique: it is a non destructive method of assessing the dynamic properties of a structure. Changes in the physical properties of a structure can be identified from changes in its dynamic properties. Consequently vibration analysis, both experimental and computational, has been used to assess bone fracture healing, prosthetic hip loosening and dental implant OI with varying degrees of success. More recently experimental vibration analysis has been used in TFOI. However further work is needed to assess the potential of the technique and fully characterise the femur-implant system. The overall aim of this study was to develop physical and computational models of the TFOI femur-implant system and use these models to investigate the feasibility of vibration analysis to detect the process of OI. Femur-implant physical models were developed and manufactured using synthetic materials to represent four key stages of OI development (identified from a physiological model), simulated using different interface conditions between the implant and femur. Experimental vibration analysis (modal analysis) was then conducted using the physical models. The femur-implant models, representing stage one to stage four of OI development, were excited and the modal parameters obtained over the range 0-5kHz. The results indicated the technique had limited capability in distinguishing between different interface conditions. The fundamental bending mode did not alter with interfacial changes. However higher modes were able to track chronological changes in interface condition by the change in natural frequency, although no one modal parameter could uniquely distinguish between each interface condition. The importance of the model boundary condition (how the model is constrained) was the key finding; variations in the boundary condition altered the modal parameters obtained. Therefore the boundary conditions need to be held constant between tests in order for the detected modal parameter changes to be attributed to interface condition changes. A three dimensional Finite Element (FE) model of the femur-implant model was then developed and used to explore the sensitivity of the modal parameters to more subtle interfacial and boundary condition changes. The FE model was created using the synthetic femur geometry and an approximation of the implant geometry. The natural frequencies of the FE model were found to match the experimental frequencies within 20% and the FE and experimental mode shapes were similar. Therefore the FE model was shown to successfully capture the dynamic response of the physical system. As was found with the experimental modal analysis, the fundamental bending mode of the FE model did not alter due to changes in interface elastic modulus. Axial and torsional modes were identified by the FE model that were not detected experimentally; the torsional mode exhibited the largest frequency change due to interfacial changes (103% between the lower and upper limits of the interface modulus range). Therefore the FE model provided additional information on the dynamic response of the system and was complementary to the experimental model. The small changes in natural frequency over a large range of interface region elastic moduli indicated the method may only be able to distinguish between early and late OI progression. The boundary conditions applied to the FE model influenced the modal parameters to a far greater extent than the interface condition variations. Therefore the FE model, as well as the experimental modal analysis, indicated that the boundary conditions need to be held constant between tests in order for the detected changes in modal parameters to be attributed to interface condition changes alone. The results of this study suggest that in a clinical setting it is unlikely that the in vivo boundary conditions of the amputated femur could be adequately controlled or replicated over time and consequently it is unlikely that any longitudinal change in frequency detected by the modal analysis technique could be attributed exclusively to changes at the femur-implant interface. Therefore further development of the modal analysis technique would require significant consideration of the clinical boundary conditions and investigation of modes other than the bending modes.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

601 since deposited on 25 Nov 2010
31 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 38874
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD by Publication)
Supervisor: Adam, Clayton, Evans, John, Pearcy, Mark, & Smeathers, James
Keywords: transfemoral amputation, osseointegration, vibration, modal analysis, finite element analysis, frequency response function, synthetic femur
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 25 Nov 2010 03:08
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 20:00

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page