Bone growth and dental implants

In order to reduce the medical radiographic imaging dosage for patients with dental implants, engineers from Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran have designed a novel sensor. The device can be integrated within dental implants in order to monitor bone growth, thus replacing multiple radiographic imaging sessions.

According to the researchers, low-energy consumption, stable performance and information processing rate are some of the engineering challenges for implanted sensors. The sensor is designed using microfabrication methods and integrated into dental implants. Once in place, it passively measures changes in the surrounding electrical field in order to monitor bone growth. “When the bone is forming around the sensor, the capacitance of the sensor changes,” explained lead author Dr Alireza Hassanzadeh, assistant professor in the department of electrical engineering at the university, in a blog entry on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Spectrum website. These changes in capacitance are then conveyed to a reader device via a wireless inductive link.

The sensor is a zero-power module and therefore does not require a battery. According to IEEE Spectrum, it is made of titanium and polyether ether ketone (PEEK). So far, it has been tested on the femur and mandible bone. Results showed that sensor capacitance from the early stage of dental implantation to full recovery and bone development had increased more than seven times.

The study, titled ‘A new capacitive sensor for histomorphometry evaluation of dental implants’, was published online in IEEE Sensors Journal, ahead of inclusion in an issue.