Doctors may soon have a tool to help detect joint replacements that are loosening -- the most common reason joint replacements fail. Loose replacements can cause problems for arthritis patients who had the surgery to relieve pain and improve mobility.
The first indication that a replacement may be loose is increased pain and decreased mobility in the joint. There are imaging modalities available that can detect a loose prosthesis. Doctors really want to be able to identify the problem earlier though -- when inflammation begins -- not after the damage is done.
Several years ago, Dong Wang, Ph.D., researcher from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, developed a nanomedicine that contained an anti-inflammatory drug. The nanocarrier system used with it had been used in the past to deliver chemo drugs to cancer cells. Researchers showed the system could be used to target inflamed, arthritic joints. In their newest study, they went one step further and tested the tool's ability to detect a loosening prosthesis.
The nanocarrier system will need to be tested in animals and then humans. Early studies used mice. There also needs to be therapeutic agents coupled to the nanocarriers that will target the inflammation caused by wear particles associated with a loosening joint replacement. The research is a collaborative effort between University of Nebraska Medical Center and the Hospital for Special Surgery.
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Photo permission from Hospital for Special Surgery