The past few years have presented many important trends in the orthopedic device market that we have been talking about for a while now. As the elderly population is expanding, the need for orthopedic devices that improve the quality of life for patients will continue to grow. In this blog article, I share what we see today and how things are developing, presenting 5 orthopedic device market trends in 2022.
1. The acceptance of robotics in orthopedic surgery
Robotic-assisted surgery is a major focus in orthopedics. About five years ago, robotic surgery was pretty much in its infancy. A lot has happened in the past few years, and it has now become more accepted. Every single company has or is coming out with its own system for doing robotic surgery. It started with hips and knees and has progressed to involve spine and trauma applications.
One of the major orthopedic device companies installed 600 robots globally in 2021 and expects to install another 350-400 robots in 2022. Another major orthopedic device company installed 100 robots for knee replacement surgery in 2021 and expects to install another 200 robots in 2022. A third key player believes the demand for robotic-assisted surgery in orthopedics will remain strong.
I think this trend will continue to evolve, and the robots will become more refined, feature-rich, and precise. This is how the market is going, and companies will have to keep up with the development to stay ahead of the competition.
2. The shift to ambulatory surgery centers
Another trend, especially for the US market, is the shift to ambulatory surgery centers (ASC) performing more of the procedures. Prior to Covid, there was a general trend in the industry of trying to move more procedures to the ASC setting. Cost savings and ease of access for the patients and physicians made the movement to the ASC desirable, but it was slow.
With COVID, the move was accelerated. The hospitals were understandably full of Covid patients occupying beds that may have been needed post-surgery. Also, many surgical patients were concerned about being in close proximity to Covid-positive patients.
I think this is a trend that is definitely going to continue in the future. I don’t see us going back to when most orthopedic procedures were performed in the hospital.
The aspect of robotic surgery also plays into the ambulatory surgery situation. There was a time when, if you had a total knee replacement, you were in the hospital for a minimum of a week. Now you can do same-day surgery with robotic assistance due to their preciseness.
One of the major orthopedic device companies is experiencing continued penetration of US ambulatory surgery centers and contribution from robotic-assisted knee replacement surgery. They also saw the shift to the ASC setting evolving in the Covid environment and expect the ASCs to grow significantly going forward.
Another key player is seeing continued growth of large joint replacements in ambulatory surgery centers, especially knee replacements. They believe entering the cementless knee space will be critical to staying competitive in the orthopedic device market.
3. The shift to disposable instrumentation in surgery
Another big trend, which also plays into the ambulatory surgery setting, is a shift from reusable to disposable instrumentation. Since the inception of orthopedic surgery, surgeons have used drills, screwdrivers, saws, and other surgical instruments of one form or another for their procedures. Then they go down to central supply, where the instruments are cleaned, sterilized, and repacked after every case.
But now, we are starting to see a shift slowly going to disposable instrumentation. The disposable instruments come prepackaged and sterile. They are used for one procedure and are then properly and sustainably disposed of and recycled to aid in the production of new instruments. Brand new packs are taken out for the next procedure. I think this is the way a lot of the systems are going to go for instruments that have been used historically over and over again.
Until this point, the biggest impediment has been the cost of buying disposable instrumentation. However, there is a cost of sterilization as well. Many hospitals have invested millions of dollars in systems to clean and sterilize the instruments between procedures. They are now looking at the cost of using disposable instruments versus sterilization.
According to the latest research by FMI, the demand for disposable spinal instruments is poised to increase at a robust CAGR of 8.3% between 2022 and 2028, totalling a valuation of US$ 96.5 Mn by 2028. If the market can get the disposable cost down to a reasonable level, I think that is where this is going.
4. Additive manufacturing for orthopedic implants
Additive manufacturing is another big trend. Industry analyst SmarTech estimates that the orthopedic segment of additive manufacturing is forecast to grow by nearly 30% annually. However, it is taking a bit longer to ramp up, and the orthopedic market still hasn’t fully adopted it for some indications.
Again, a large factor is the cost. Once the manufacturers can bring the cost down, which we are starting to see, I think 3D-printed, custom-made implants will start to become more accepted. We are already starting to see many spine implants created using additive manufacturing.
Right now, for most arthroplasty procedures, surgeons try to match pre-made implants as closely as possible to the patients’ anatomy – and they can get it pretty close. But everybody is different, as we know. With 3D printing, however, it is possible to custom-make an implant specific to the patient’s unique anatomy. The fit will be better, and the implant will last longer.
Even though 3D printing is still too expensive for a lot of orthopedic implants, there are companies making them for very specific indications such as bone cancer and spinal surgery. Additive manufacturing has already revolutionized the design and manufacturing processes in a lot of industries. I think it will continue as a trend also in the orthopedic industry.
5. New innovative materials for orthopedic implants
Another big and ongoing trend in orthopedics is the development of new materials such as alloys, composites, and polymers and how they are manufactured. For example, there is a new polymer that scientists at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) have come up with that is twice as strong as stainless steel but as light as plastic. The medical implications of those properties are huge. Michael Strano, the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT, says this new polymer may open up a whole new class of materials that are strong in new kinds of ways.
We are also seeing a big trend with PEEK implants, and that is just continuing to grow as companies are learning how to manufacture more complex components. According to Science Direct, polymer materials have become the research hotspot and achieved outstanding results in recent years.
I think these new types of materials will play a large part in the future of the orthopedic device market.
I hope this blog post gave you some insight into some of the orthopedic device market trends in 2022. To learn more about Elos Medtech’s offer, visit our website.