Although the market for orthopaedic implants has and is expanding rapidly, a leading surgeon insists that traditional, off-the-shelf solutions and not custom-made joints will continue to be the way forward for the foreseeable future.
Custom joint implants are becoming more popular as they are patient-specific and can be designed, personalised and manufactured with extreme precision to match a patient’s unique anatomy. One excellent example is custom-made knee joints, which result in a better knee alignment than traditional off-the-shelf solutions.
The orthopaedic implants market, both traditional and customised, was valued at $45billion (USD) in 2022 and is expected to reach $68billion by 2029.
Dr Šarūnas Tarasevičius (right), an orthopaedic surgeon at Nordorthopaedics Clinic, a leading international orthopaedic centre in Kaunas, Lithuania, explained to us what’s behind the rapid growth of the implant and orthopaedic surgery market.
“The global population is ageing, and the prevalence of orthopaedic diseases such as arthritis, osteoarthritis, disc diseases, hip and knee pain, and low bone density is rising. Traumas, accidents, and injuries are also becoming widespread due to an increased active lifestyle.”
“All this, coupled with the rising acceptance of implantable medical devices and the fast advances in 3D imaging, modelling, and digital manufacturing, is furthering the market’s fast growth.”
Time-consuming widespread application
Despite the advantages presented by patient-specific implants, designing, manufacturing, and delivery of customised solutions can be time-consuming, and in some markets, such as North America, patients face the cost factors and the hurdle of surgeon acceptance.
Research published by the US National Library of Medicine indicates that custom implants promise a personalised surgical approach with the aim of improving patient satisfaction. However, other studies have found no substantial clinical improvements in postoperative validated outcome scores, risks of reoperation, and implant alignment.
“To this day, we do not have any significant, research-based proof that custom implants provide better results in terms of function and longevity. Currently, producing custom implants takes more time and radiation tests, and there’s no reason to do this — in most cases, there’s no big advantage in using custom-made implants,” added Dr Tarasevičius.
Potential risks during surgery
The orthopaedic surgeon also maintained that there are risks that come with going down the custom-made implants route.
“If a patient-specific implant is not made precisely, it can even result in periprosthetic fractures. Moreover, the surgeon is given less freedom to make on-the-spot decisions during the surgery.”
For this reason, orthopaedic surgeons still go for traditional, off-the-shelf solutions.
“The market for orthopaedic implants and the advanced technology involved is growing in leaps and bounds, yet for the foreseeable future, it seems that the traditional, ready-made solutions are here to stay and will account for a large portion of procedures worldwide,” Dr Tarasevičius concluded.
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