Image courtesy of Smith & Nephew.

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On June 3 2019, Smith & Nephew announced it’s successful acquisition of the Brainlab orthopedic joint reconstruction business. This move supports Smith & Nephew’s strategic decision to invest in novel, cutting-edge technologies, which builds their position in the digital surgery and robotic sector.

Brainlab enables physicians to use digital tools in their procedures, from planning the procedure to post-procedure sharing. This innovative technology allows advanced precision and standardization. In addition, Smith & Nephew and Brainlab are partnering to develop additional systems to enhance their already existing products lines.

The latest developments in the joint reconstruction market include the application of additive-manufacturing technology, or 3D-printing, in the process of implant manufacturing, as well as an increasing adoption of robotics and intelligent instrumentation in orthopedics. 3D-printing technology can be used to produce custom implants, as well as off-the-shelf devices. Custom implants can be 3D-printed based on the patients’ computed-tomography (CT) scans. The scan of the affected joint is being converted into the exact 3D model with the assistance of specialized software.

Orthopedic surgery began to incorporate robotic technology in 1992, when the robotic system ROBODOC was first introduced by Integrated Surgical Systems. ROBODOC system is not in production anymore. At present, there are a few orthopedic companies, such as Smith & Nephew, who offer robotic solutions to be used in orthopedic procedures. Robotic application allows for comprehensive surgery planning, increasingly precise implants placement and bone preparation. While the acquisition of robotic platforms requires substantial financial resources from hospitals, as well as potentially extended surgery times, there has been a number of reported benefits of robotic-assisted surgery. Being a less invasive procedure when compared with conventional arthroplasty, it may reduce the hospitalization and recovery time of the patients. Robotic assistance also benefits orthopedic surgeons by simplifying surgery procedures. While orthopedic companies are extensively investing in research and development in order to capitalize on the market trend, the future of robotic application in joint reconstruction will be clear when more long term clinical data has been gathered and economic and the clinical benefits of the technology have been tested.

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For Further Information

More on the orthopedic large joints replacement market in the U.S. can be found in a series of reports published by iData entitled the U.S. Market Report Suite for Orthopedic Large Joint Devices.