Chart of the Month: COVID Abatement in First Quarter Brings Relief for Most Pressured Segments

By Mike Evers

Chart of the Month: COVID Abatement in First Quarter Brings Relief for Most Pressured Segments

The orthopedic segments of knee replacement, hip replacement and spine have been the most susceptible to disruption from procedure cancelations during the pandemic. While those segments improved in 2021, the late-year omicron surge blunted recovery and left all three short of historical growth rates.

This month, our chart compares the segments’ growth in the first quarter of 2022 to a four-year historical average growth rate from 2016 through 2019. We drew this data from the largest public companies in each segment, representing nearly 70% of the market. We’ve excluded enabling technology sales from the relevant segments in this chart.

Leadership from NuVasive called the first quarter a tale of two halves as COVID restrictions severely curtailed elective procedure volumes in January and early February. However, March brought a strong rebound that helped lagging segments like joint replacement and spine.

We expect the recovery to slow in the second quarter due to hospital staffing constraints and economic uncertainty. However, backlogged procedures will likely be a modest tailwind for some time. “Working through the full backlog is going to take a sustained recovery. We’re thinking about many quarters of recovery and returning to normal to get the backlog down,” said Preston Wells, Stryker’s VP of Investor Relations.