Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 February 2009
To assess rotational deformity in a broken forearm, an orthopaedic surgeon needs to determine the amount of rotation of the radius from one or more two-dimensional x-rays of the fracture. This requires only simple first-year university mathematics — rotational transformations of ellipses plus a little differential calculus — which yields a general formula giving the rotation angle from information obtained from an x-ray. Preliminary comparisons with experimental results are excellent. This is a practical problem that may be useful to motivate the teaching of conic sections.