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The University of Southampton

Research project: Anatomically Precise Revolutionary Implant for bone Conserving Osteoarthritis Treatment (APRICOT)

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This project aims to develop a minimally invasive, tissue preserving implant for small joints of the hand, that restores pain free, natural kinematic motion of the finger joints.

Small joint arthritis presents a large societal burden throughout Europe. The largest pan-European study on osteoarthritis (OA) of the hand observed an average incidence of 16.3%. An ageing population is experiencing OA due to increased levels of obesity, and due to people remaining active later in life, imposing long term loading on their joints.

The rise of technology has also increased the incidence of finger joint arthritis in young adults as a result of using electronic hand held devices. People need to be independent later in life and new solutions are required, particularly for small joints, where success rates of artificial joints are very low (revision rates of up to 40% have been reported for finger prostheses). This is because the implants are invasive, sacrifice large amounts of tissue, and most critically, they do not restore the original kinematics of the joint, leading to pain and discomfort due to unnatural loading of the tissues.

We aim to develop APRICOT, a novel, extremely thin, self-lubricating compliant implant that is placed between the articulating surfaces of the affected joint. It is minimally invasive, does not remove healthy bone, is suitable for patients of all ages, and does not require the use of general anaesthetics. Successful proof of this radical concept will deliver a revolutionary means of treating small joint arthritis and contribute positively to society as a whole by reducing the burden of pain for millions of sufferers, and by empowering individuals to re-integrate with society with confidence.

Small joint reconstruction is predicted to experience the fastest growth globally due to the number of emerging markets and the ageing population. The APRICOT concept therefore represents an opportunity for Europe to penetrate the orthopaedic market and gain a competitive advantage with a game changing innovative device.

Associated research themes

Related research groups

Bioengineering Science
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