Latest Trends and Developments in Orthopedics
by John Gary
Total joint replacement (TJR) happens when a joint has been compromised and needs to be replaced. Orthopedic surgeons will remove the destroyed joint and replace it with a new one. Sometimes only a portion of the joint needs to be replaced, concentrating on the impaired parts. Usually a doctor will recommend joint replacement to enhance your quality of life. TJR also makes it easier for you to go about your everyday activities free of pain. The most common joints that are replaced are knees and hips. Many other joints can be replaced like fingers, shoulders, ankles, and elbows. New research is always being conducted.
Here are a few of the latest trends and developments in orthopedics.
# Continued Commoditization of Implants
The costs of traditional implants continue to climb and is a concern for the elderly and low income clients. Generic implants have begun to come on the market that give patients and doctors options instead of always using brand name implants. Generic implants are about 50 – 60% lower cost than the name brand alternatives. FDA approved implants like plates, screws, and nails, are more commonly used at this time. But as the interest in generic implants continues more differentiated parts will be produced. These are things like hips, knees, and spine implants.
# Increase in Robotics Technology
Robotics has come on the orthopedic scene, as well as, minimally invasive surgery. Currently the use is confined to knee and hip arthroplasty. These techniques are a costly investment and the orthopedic cohort is split on whether the clinical and market benefit can justify the cost. Usually the decision is made by the convenience and usefulness for the physician. Less invasive surgery is generally the best way to go for the patient.
At this time only one company has an FDA approved robotic system for knee and hip arthroplasty. But several other companies are in the process of approval from the FDA. Developing techniques are also being tested for spine and other orthopedic surgeries.
# Outmigration of the Inpatient Business
TJR is usually an impatient surgery and most orthopedic offices are concerned about moving to an outpatient system. This is because there would be no Medicare reimbursement. While outpatient joint replacement may seem like a positive it could have an impact on the financial system of hospitals. In addition only the young and in very good health patients are considered for outpatient surgery so this is available to a limited population.
# Expansion of Regenerative Medicine
Currently regenerative medicine is being used in orthopedics for sports injuries. However, due to the large cost it is limited to a small percentage of the population. Research on cartilage regeneration is being conducted and the results are encouraging. Researchers are keeping data on the outcome of tissue regeneration. Cartilage cells are also being collected and grown to imitate everyday knee use. Implants are being developed from these cells and are surgically introduced into the joint. 3D printing is researched to make cartilage fibers. These studies are being conducted at this time.
Many orthopedic doctors, like the orthopedic doctors in Glendale, are finding amazing new developments that will make orthopedic surgery easier on their patients. Many new trends and techniques are continuing to be researched and are moving the orthopedic community down cutting edge paths.