UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering


IHE Colloquium Series: Alister Hart and Johann Henckel

27 February 2019, 6:00 pm–7:00 pm


Surgical technology in orthopaedics: engineers help get our patients walking again

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G08 Sir David Davies LT, Roberts Engineering Building
Gower Street


We will describe our use of 3D imaging and 3D printing to help our patients walk again. As orthopaedic surgeons (and UCL clinical academics) at the UK’s largest orthopaedic hospital, the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, we receive tertiary referrals (from other orthopaedic surgeons) to reconstruct the hips and knees of patients left in wheelchairs. 3D imaging of their bones and muscles, with assistance from UCL computer scientists, helps us understand if it is possible to get them walking again. We then use 3D printing to make custom implants (which are checked by UCL engineers) and guides to fit implants in the optimal position. 3D imaging, after surgery, checks what we have done, and measures the progress of rehabilitation (with the help of UCL engineers) to walking again.


Professor Alister Hart holds the Action Medical Research Chair of Academic Clinical Orthopaedics at University College London (UCL) and is an honorary consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) NHS Trust. He specialises in hip and knee problems, was nicknamed the “Hospital Hip Detective” by the BBC and campaigns for everlasting performance of orthopaedic implants. 

His surgical and research interests focus on the achievement of the best possible patient and radiological outcomes after hip and knee replacement. His Impact Case study for the 2014 UCL REF on the subject of hip implant research included: changes to international health policy; development of new and revised clinical guidance in the UK and abroad; changes to clinical practice and subsequent cost savings; and accountability within industry.

He has been Principal Investigator on 26 grant awards since 2006 with total funding of over £7 million from research councils, charities and industry. He has published more than 150 papers (first or last author on >100) with 200 co-authors, including in the journal Nature, >4000 citations and an h index of 34. He actively collaborates with surgeons and scientists in Boston, New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Switzerland, Germany and Finland.

He has done more than 3000 surgical operations including >500 revision hip replacements. He has reviewed for 10 journals. He has given invited lectures in the USA, Canada, Japan, Finland, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, and Poland on hip and knee surgery. His medicolegal work has been successfully used by both claimants and defendants.

Dr Johann Henckel is a fellow in Trauma & Orthopaedic surgery having started his surgical training at UCL Medical School.