The main reason for the revision of total hip replacements is aseptic loosening, caused by stress shielding and wear particle induced osteolysis. In order to detect an implant loosening early, the osseointegration of endoprosthetic implants must be measured exactly. Currently applied diagnostic methods, such as standard radiographs and clinical symptomatology, often result in an imprecise diagnosis. A novel radiation-free method to improve the diagnostic investigation of implant loosening is presented. The osseointegration of an implant can be identified using mechanical magnetic sensors (oscillators), which impinge on small membranes inside an implant component, e.g., the femoral hip stem. The maximum velocity after impingement of the oscillator depends on the osseointegration of the implant. Excitation of the oscillator is realized by a coil outside the human body. Another external coil is used to detect the velocity of the oscillator. To demonstrate the principle of the novel loosening sensor, an overdimensioned test device was designed to measure simulated loosening phases in the first experimental tests with different material layers. The overdimensioned test device of the loosening sensor showed significant differences in the various phases of fixation. Analysis of the membrane without any material layer in the case of advanced loosening resulted in a 23% higher maximum velocity compared to an attached artificial bone layer. Based on these preliminary results, the sensor system shows potential for the detection of implant loosening. Moreover, the proposed system could be used in experimental applications to determine the quality of bioactive coatings and new implant materials.

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