A Kansas surgeon is working on a $1.6 million research product that seeks to address combat-related trauma issues for soldiers. Dr. Michael Heggeness, the program director and chair of orthopedics of the KU School of Medicine-Wichita, believes a so-called "bone putty" may be a viable alternative to typical treatment options for military veterans with serious lower-limb wounds.
According to a March 2 article in The Kansas City Star, testing the putty on humans is "several years away at best," but there is significant hope it could have a tremendous impact on the healing process and help soldiers avoid both the complications and agony that comes with amputations, limb shortening, and painful surgical procedures. More importantly, it looks like it could help heal weight-bearing bone in a fraction of the time it normally takes.
Here's what Heggeness had to say about his innovative solution in the article:
“Injuries now are different than they have been in previous conflicts. The Army wanted a solution to all of these folks who wind up with a blown limb and segments of bone missing that lead to amputations or multiple surgeries with agonizing rehabilitations that come up with a twisted, misshapen limb all too often. They want to know what to do with missing sections of bones. Our charge was to help them solve that problem.”
The initial plan was to develop bone putty meant for the battlefield when soldiers are injured, but the efforts of Heggeness and others eventually led to a new and innovative method for quicker bone healing. According to The Kansas City Star article, "bridging segments in the femur and fibula, new bone formations were developing within two weeks after being injected with cells."
Adds Heggeness: “We were making bone like crazy and healing fractures in remarkably short periods of time."