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Noninvasive Approach To Salvaging Limbs Helps Young Bone Cancer Patients

The latest collaboration of doctors and mechanical engineers has produced a new type of prosthesis that stretches and lengthens damaged legs without the need for painful surgery and long periods of rehabilitation.

Dubbed the "bionic bone," the noninvasive device has been used in the United States and England on victims of osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer that affects children and young adults. One form of limb salvage uses an external source of energy to move a spring embedded in soft leg tissue to stretch the limb, thus allowing the affected limb to grow at the same rate as the normal leg.

Doctors believe that the new device represent significant medical progress over traditional modular prosthetics, which require multiple surgeries for incremental leg lengthening resulting in long periods of rehab.

According to Mechanical Engineering magazine, which includes a report on the new types of prosthesis in the February 2004 issue, many orthopedic oncologists "are giving the noninvasive forms (of prosthesis) strong consideration because they limit the surgery and rehabilitation their young patients must endure."

Mechanical Engineering is a publication of the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers). For further information about the publication or to access the article "The Machinery of Life," visit the ASME Web site, http://www.asme.org.

ASME is a 120,000-member professional organization focused on technical, educational and research issues of the engineering and technology community. ASME conducts one of the world's largest technical publishing operations, holds numerous technical conferences worldwide, and offers hundreds of professional development courses each year. ASME sets internationally recognized industrial and manufacturing codes and standards that enhance public welfare and safety.

Source: American Society Of Mechanical Engineers. February 2004.

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