How Will Orthopaedic Procedures Change in the Next 10 Years?

By Carolyn LaWell

The OMTEC® 2018 Closing Keynote panel of surgeon entrepreneurs and executives fielded an audience question on ways that surgical techniques will change over the next five to 10 years, and what might that mean for new products. We thought it was great question with insightful answers, which we have recapped here.

Patrick Sweeney, M.D., Spine Surgeon, Founder, Center for Minimally, Invasive Surgery, Flow-Fx and ConnectSx: The most difficult challenge that orthopaedics faces will be answered by precision delivery of biologics or medication. Personally, I’m committed to the concept of orthopaedic implants becoming a medication delivery device. When you look at the advances in biologics that we’ve had and the medications that have been available for a long time, delivering those in a precise fashion has the potential to change surgical techniques.

Peter Althausen, M.D., Chairman and Treasurer, Orthopaedic Implant Company and Trauma Surgeon, Reno Orthopaedic Clinic: If you look at trauma or total joint, over the next five year period, I don’t think we can perform the surgery any faster. The 20 operations that I perform, I do them within the same time frame—a hip nail takes seven-and-a-half minutes every time, unless something is horribly wrong. The inefficiency of what happens between the surgeries is the problem we’re looking at now. Until our problems are solved by the superbiologic, how do we make the implant delivery easier? How do we decrease time in processing and storing? How do we make it easier on our staff so that they get burned out less?

Mark I. Froimson, M.D., Immediate Past President, American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, and Principal, Riverside Health Advisors: Biologics are going to be key. Think of total joint replacement; there are two problems that plague us. One, infection rate is still real—1% to 2%—and it’s a devastating problem. If you get an infected total joint, your mortality rate within five years is higher than most cancers. The implants we put in people haven’t changed. We need biologically-augmented implants that are coated with certain agents that will deter infection. Two, some people develop early or late instability around a primary total knee and, despite our best efforts with robotics or sensors or alignment techniques, there are still people with whom the kinematics are off. It would be nice to make adjustments in vivo so that we could correct the kinematics after an implant has been implanted. There are areas of innovation if you look at the existing problems.

Additional insight from the panel discussion, including the surgeons' thoughts on single-use and patient-specific instruments, was recapped in the article Surgeons Seek Innovation in Instruments, Delivery of Care.

Tags: Surgeon