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handsCollectively, the small joints market in the United States has experienced and will continue to experience steady growth.

The relative maturity of the large hip and knee markets has prompted medical device manufacturers to look for alternative sources of growth. Unlike the proven treatments that these market segments offer, solutions often do not exist for some aliments of the small joints, leaving the door open for device innovation.

The U.S. small joints market combines reconstructive implants for the small joints of the hands, wrists, feet, and ankles, as well as the plates, screws, and external fixation devices used during trauma surgery. The relatively easy regulatory pathway for introducing new devices to these markets has allowed new entrants to gain a foothold.

Thus, by the end of 2014, this market segment is projected to grow to $2.5 billion, according to a report published by iData Research Inc. ( titled “The 2015 U.S. Small Bone and Joint Orthopedic Market.” Nevertheless, total joint replacement technologies have experienced slower innovation because of the associated costs and the time required for product introductions—a result of the long FDA approval process.

Reversed Devices and Shoulder Reconstructions

The nearly double-digit growth of the shoulder market in recent years is primarily the result of the increased use of reversed shoulder devices. Thousands of reversed devices will be implanted in the United States in 2014 to treat glenohumeral arthritis and proximal humeral fractures. The uptick in such implantations can be attributed to the fact that revered devices are widely indicated, including for patients suffering from massive rotator cuff tears. In such instances, the deltoid is surgically attached to the implant, providing strength for arm motion.

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Brett McKitterick is a market research analyst at Vancouver, BC–based iData Research Inc. and was the lead researcher for the 2015 U.S.


Originally published on Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry, October 15, 2014