Orthopaedic Engineering and 3D Musculoskeletal Imaging Research

Treating pediatric musculoskeletal deformities and injuries requires analyzing complex and interrelated factors such as patients’ stage of growth; and shapes, alignment, and motion of the musculoskeletal system (including the spine, hips, and upper and lower limbs).

Our researchers use advanced imaging and motion analysis to collect data on a range of conditions and patient populations. These tools help doctors visualize the problem and determine the best treatment options for their patients.

Researchers use CT scans, MRI, ultrasounds, and low dose X-rays using EOS imaging to create digital 3D models of the bones to better characterize the musculoskeletal conditions and improve diagnosis and treatment of patients. The motion of the joints and muscle strength is also studied in detail using gait and motion analysis tools.

These technologies allow doctors and researchers to view the spine and lower extremities from all angles and watch how the bones and joints move together while the patient walks or runs. 3D models and gait and motion analysis tools are used in two major areas of research:

Skeletal deformities: Scoliosis, hip dysplasia, lower limb deformities

The data is used to:

  • Forecast how scoliosis progresses in patients, based on age group and other factors
  • Categorize scoliosis patients according to the 3D spinal deformity
  • Recommend and improve interventions that prevent the scoliosis from progressing
  • Study how patients respond differently to treatment depending on the shape of their spine, hips and lower extremities
  • Understand the effectiveness of various treatments for different conditions by analyzing the shape and function of the spine, hip, and lower extremities before and after conservative or surgical treatment

Sports medicine

The research looks primarily at the 3D alignment of the legs and gait and motion abnormalities due to knee and hip injuries or conditions. The information is used to:

  • Understand what parameters might lead to later injury and offer preventative treatment
  • Determine whether a patient is a candidate for certain surgeries
  • Decide the best treatment based on a patient’s profile
  • Analyze the patient after surgery to determine whether the treatment was successful

Upcoming initiatives include 3D printing of the spine and ribcage to allow surgeons to better visualize, plan and prepare for complex surgeries.

Saba Pasha, PhD, is the director of the Orthopaedic Engineering and 3D Musculoskeletal Imaging Research Program and our physicians at the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia actively collaborate to design and execute research that addresses important questions in diagnosis and treatment of pediatric musculoskeletal conditions.

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Children's Hospital's Division of Orthopaedics is one of the largest and most active pediatric orthopaedic centers in the world.

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