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Materials a Major Driver in Implant Innovation

The future of orthopaedic innovation belongs to materials—how they’re manufactured, how they’re coated, how they’re treated and how they enhance patient care. That was one takeaway from the ORTHOWORLD Symposium: The State and Future of the Orthopaedic Industry™ held in January 2015.

Doug Kohrs, Managing Director of Responsive Orthopedics and Past President and CEO of Tornier, moderated a two-hour discussion with B. Sonny Bal, M.D., J.D., Chairman, President and CEO of AMEDICA, and Rod Mayer, President of Nextremity Solutions. Mr. Kohrs asked the two panelists, as they look into the future, which technologies they find interesting.


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Doug Kohrs, Managing Director of Responsive Orthopedics and Past President and CEO of Tornier, B. Sonny Bal, M.D., J.D., Chairman, President and CEO of AMEDICA, and Rod Mayer, President of Nextremity Solutions, will reconvene to provide the OMTEC 2015 keynote address in June.  
 

   Doug-Kohrs WEB  B. Sonny_Bal_MD_JD_MBA_Photo  Rod-Mayer-cropped-web     Doug Kohrs   Sonny Bal, M.D.   Rod Mayer

Magnesium is a material that forefoot-focused Nextremity Solutions is considering for future products. The interest comes from the materials adsorption tendencies rather than absorption.

“There seems to be a high level of interest from surgeons,” Mr. Mayer said of the material. “Some European studies were recently finalized and papers presented on use of that material in cannulated screws for deformities. That’s an intriguing material to consider.” 

He also sees tremendous application of the additive manufacturing process in the future of foot and ankle.

“This is a whole new area that is quite fascinating, and the manufacturing capabilities of using this new technology and various materials create an incredible opportunity,” he said.

Dr. Bal said he sees new imaging modalities, ortho scanners and in-home portable x-rays as the future of technology. That invites the question: What is being seen on the x-ray?   

“If you put metal against a bone, you can’t see the bone behind it,” he said. “If you put a piece of plastic, you can’t see the plastic unless you put metal shards in it and infer where it is. If you put a piece of silicon nitride in the material, not only do you see where the implant is, but you see through the implant to the bone behind it and adjacent to it.”        

Not surprisingly, Dr. Bal said biomaterials, including Amedica’s silicon nitride, are the future of orthopaedic implant materials. Also a joint reconstruction surgeon, Dr. Bal said the industry has reached a finite level of what it can accomplish with metals and plastics. Over the next five to ten years, results of certain plastic and metal combinations and coatings will be the subject of industry conversation, as metal–on-metal has.

As new biomaterials are developed, Dr. Bal predicts, in the short term, products will launch with rehashes of current materials--for example, the addition of carbon fibers, titanium, hydroxyapatite and porous ceramics to plastics.

The panel's discussion regarding robotics, navigation and custom implants will be recapped in the June issue of BONEZONE.

Carolyn LaWell is Content Manager at ORTHOWORLD. She can be reached byThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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