Objective: This study investigates the feasibility of using a new self-powered sensing and data logging system for postoperative monitoring of spinal fusion progress. The proposed diagnostic technology directly couples a piezoelectric transducer signal into a Fowler-Nordheim (FN) quantum tunneling-based synchronized dynamical system to record the mechanical usage of spinal fixation devices. The operation of the proposed implantable FN sensor-data-logger is completely self-powered by harvesting the energy from the micro-motion of the spine during the course of fusion. Bench-top testing is performed using corpectomy models to evaluate the performance of the proposed monitoring system. In order to simulate the spinal fusion process, different materials with gradually increasing elastic modulus are used to fill the intervertebral space gap. Besides, finite element models are developed to analyze the strains induced on the spinal rods during the applied cyclic loading. Data measured from the benchtop experiment is processed using an FN sensor-data-logger model to obtain time-evolution curves representing each spinal fusion state. This feasibility study shows that the obtained curves are viable tools to differentiate between conditions of osseous union and assess the effective fusion period.
- Fowler-Nordheim quantum tunneling
- Self-powered sensor
- energy harvesting
- spinal fusion
- trauma-fixation device