Developing acoustic emission technology for knee joint assessment

Prior, James (2005) Developing acoustic emission technology for knee joint assessment. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Orthopaedic injuries can be highly problematic and in need of systematic evaluation (Tom & Miller, 2003). Joint pathology, both acute and chronic are frequently established through clinical examination, however subtle injuries can be especially
difficult to diagnosis. Consequently the referral to assessment technologies such as MM, CT scans and ultrasound is performed. Though these are effective tools they do possess various disadvantages such as their invasiveness, financial burden and limited availability. These factors emphasise the restrictions apparent within joint assessment and demonstrate the potential for a new diagnostic technology to amend this. It is the intention of this study to examine Acoustic Emission (AE) technology for such a role.
AE is a method of non-destructive testing used within industry and is employed to determine structural failure through the collection of inaudible sound. The use of AE in a clinical environment would not attempt to replace physical examination or
diagnostic technologies. AE would provide a unique, convenient aid for healthcare professionals dealing with ambiguous pathologies. AE would be more accessible to smaller practices due to the units small cost and size, reducing the need for referral so producing quicker and cheaper diagnosis yet remaining sensitive and specific. The primary focus of this study was to examine the repeatability of AE measures within the healthy knee joint, endeavouring to illustrate its potential as a clinical tool. This study investigated the within-subject implications to AE measures of sensor location, sensor attachment methods and the angular velocity of the knee joint during data collection. These results would allow better understanding of methodological implications for the further analysis of between subject repeatability of AE. Data collection was achieved via a joint monitor that recorded the AE from the healthy knee whilst the joint was passively moved. Results illustrated incidents of within subject repeatability from differing sensor locations and attachment techniques. Joint angular velocity presented no consistent influence upon AE measures. With consideration to AE distribution during movement a significant difference was
apparent across all variables. However there was some evidence that AE measures are repeatable between like subjects. In conclusion this work demonstrated the influence of certain variables upon AE measures and presents the potential for AE to adapt to clinical use through further study.

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