PITTSBURGHRadio-frequency technology developed at the University of Pittsburgh that uses human tissue instead of air as a conduit for radio waves is the basis of the first electronic "tag" system designed to track and monitor orthopaedic implants.
The noninvasive system, known as Ortho-Tag, features a wireless chip attached to the implant and a handheld receiver that together would let physicians view the critical information about artificial knees, hips, and other internal prostheticsas well as the condition of the surrounding tissuethat currently can be difficult to track down.
The chip, or tag, would have information about the patient, the implant, and the procedure uploaded to it prior to an operation, explained New Jersey-based orthopaedic surgeon Lee Berger, CEO of Ortho-Tag, Inc., and inventor of the tagged implant. In addition, sensors within the chip would gauge the pressure on the implant, the chemical balance and temperature of the tissue, and the presence of harmful organisms.
All of this information would subsequently be read by a handheld probe developed in the laboratory of Marlin Mickle, the Nickolas A. DeCecco professor of electrical and computer engineering in Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering. When placed against the patient's skin, the probe communicates with a radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag devised in the Mickle lab by Pitt graduate researcher Xiaoyu Liu that emits a unique wavelength designed to travel through human tissue. Special software would display information from the tag on a computer.
Berger recently patented the Ortho-Tag system (U.S. patent 7,932,825), and Ortho-Tag, Inc., has optioned the rights to Mickle's work. Berger envisions Ortho-Tag being attached to implants by the manufacturer, and he is currently building partnerships with manufacturers. Ortho-Tag, Inc., would distribute the software and probe to physicians. For people with existing orthopaedic devices, the compan
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University of Pittsburgh