Hershey Medical Center among first to use new device for bone reconstruction

HERSHEY, Pa. – Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center is the first hospital in Pennsylvania and one of the first in the nation to treat a patient with a new external device designed to correct fractures and bone deformities. The digitally activated robotic fixation device is programmed to adjust automatically, eliminating the need for patients to do so manually.

External fixation devices are common in the treatment of bone deformities, bone loss and shortening. The Autostrut was developed by a company called OrthoSpin for use with Depuy Synthes’ Maxframe External Fixation System to provide more personalized treatment for patients with these serious orthopedic conditions. This second-generation Autostrut system was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last year. In May, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center became the third hospital in the nation to use it.

“In the past, patients with these hexapod-like external fixation systems had to manually make adjustments several times a day to achieve the desired correction.” said Dr. J. Spence Reid, an orthopedic surgeon at the Penn State Bone and Joint Institute, who also consulted on Maxframe’s development. “This new device is programmable and moves automatically up to 16 times a day. It will be much easier for patients to manage and we think it will cause less pain. He will extend this method of treatment to a range of patients, including pediatricians, the elderly and patients with disabilities.

Greg Fonti of Hummelstown became the first patient to be fitted with the device at Hershey Medical Center after a motorcycle accident injured his leg bones, causing them to be of different lengths. “He certainly does his job,” Fonti said. “I can already see a major difference in my leg length.”

The Maxframe Autostrut consists of both hardware – such as struts and a control system with attached lightweight motors – and software. It is placed externally and connected to the bones by pins and wires. The movements of the bone segments are carried out by adjusting the rings on the outside. The built-in software also allows doctors to monitor patient progress and adjust treatment programs if necessary.

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More information about Penn State Bone and Joint Institute can be found here.

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