Jones Seminar: Whose Joint Is This? A Problem Solving and Design Approach to Orthopaedic Engineering

Doug Van Citters, Professor of Engineering, Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth

Friday, January 20, 2017, 3:30–4:30pm

Rm. 100 (Spanos Auditorium), Cummings Hall

Expenditures on orthopaedic conditions related to joint pain and arthritis are increasing at a rate four times that of the US economy. The resulting regulatory and reimbursement pressures to contain costs while improving value are fundamentally changing healthcare for the more than one million patients receiving an artificial joint every year. Value cannot be addressed by changing medical practice alone, particularly as the eligible patient population grows in number, increases in body mass index, and decreases in age. Considering the entire care pathway for a knee or hip replacement (i.e. from the election of surgery through completion of rehabilitation), the implanted device may account for over 20% of the total cost, and postoperative physical therapy may account for another 10% of the total cost. Each of these is heavily influenced by underlying engineering in the design of the device and the biomechanics associated with rehabilitation. Moreover, because patient satisfaction, health outcomes, and device longevity are directly related to the performance of these two factors, there exists a large opportunity to increase overall value in care through an engineering design approach to these aspects of orthopedic science. 

This talk will focus on the underlying materials science, mechanics, and tribology supporting modern design evolution in musculoskeletal care. An integrated research approach will be described wherein problem definition, fundamental science, solution strategies, and solution implementation are combined to produce measurable outcomes in technologies offered to today’s patients.  Specific attention shall be given to new understandings offered by the recent convergence of the otherwise disparate fields of functional biomechanical measurement and oxidation of metals and polymers.

About the Speaker

Douglas Van Citters, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Engineering at Thayer School. At the Dartmouth Biomedical Engineering Center for Orthopaedics, Van Citters oversees biomaterials, biomechanics, tribology, and device design as they relate to the musculoskeletal system. In this capacity, he is also responsible for curation and research activities related to Dartmouth’s 17,000-device arthroplasty retrieval collection. His current research interests include polyethylene wear mechanisms at the micro- and nano- scales, fatigue properties of novel polyethylene formulations, wear and structure of alternative bearings for total hips, polymer structure, wearable technologies, and implantable technologies. He has been an active collaborator and advisor in the biomaterials field for projects from the departments of orthopedics, plastic surgery, and pediatrics; and has active collaborations across Dartmouth’s campus ranging from chemistry to evolutionary biology.

For more information, contact Jessica Widdicombe at