Arthritis in the knee affects more than 4.7 million people worldwide. With it being very common, and with many patients not qualifying for surgery but still requiring pain killers or regular steroid injections, researchers are looking to find ways to simplify the treatment of such a condition.
A team of researchers from the University of Malta, together with their Industrial partner EMPAV Engineering Ltd., are seeking to do just that.
This project, called "Inflatable Arthroscopic Devices as Alternatives to Knee Replacement Surgery" (acronym MaltaKnee), carrying grant agreement number R&I-2019-027-T, was financed by the Malta Council for Science & Technology, for and on behalf of the Foundation for Science and Technology, through the Fusion: R&I Technology Development Programme.
The project team will work towards the production of a device to simplify the treatment of knee arthritis at an earlier stage, and in some cases hopefully preventing and possibly avoiding many total knee replacements.
The shock-absorbing device in the knee would be implanted through a minimally invasive surgical procedure called arthroscopy, whereby an endoscope is inserted into the joint through a small incision.
The ideal end result of this would be that through the implantation of the device, there would be a natural reversal of early arthritis, allowing the recovery of knee health.
Prof. Pierre Schembri Wismayer MD from the Department of Anatomy at the Faculty of Medicine & Surgery is leading the project in collaboration with partners from the Faculty of Engineering who are also collaborators on the project, namely Dr Ing. Arif Rochman, Prof. Ing. Pierluigi Mollicone and Prof. Ing. Joseph Buhagiar. Orthopaedic surgeons Mr Ray Gatt MD and Mr Ryan Giordimaina MD will be assisting from a clinical perspective.
EMPAV Engineering Ltd, a family business specialised in precision machining, will be contributing to the project through Emanuel, Mark and Carl Pavia.