Orthopedic Innovations Emerging in 2022

Titanium plates for splicing bones
stock.adobe/Sergey Ryzhov
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Orthopedics is one of the most rapidly advancing fields in medicine. Every year, new technologies and treatments are developed to help patients with musculoskeletal problems. In this blog post, we will take a look at some of the most promising innovations on the horizon. These trends include advances in 3D printing technology for joint replacement surgery, the next generation of orthopedic casting, engineered stem cells for bone regeneration, and more! Here are just a few of the trends that have emerged. 

Bioprinted Bones and Joints Will Be More Widely Available

3D printing technology has revolutionized the field of medicine, and orthopedic surgery is one of the many areas that have benefited from this breakthrough. The use of bioprinted bones and joints will become more widespread in the coming years as the technology continues to improve. In the past, surgeons would have to rely on standard-sized implants that might not fit properly. This often led to complications, such as implant rejection or instability. 

One of the most promising areas of 3D printing is in the realm of bioprinting, or the printing of living tissues. Bioprinted bones and joints offer a number of advantages over traditional implants. First, bioprinting allows for the creation of highly customized implants that perfectly match the patient's anatomy. This greatly reduces the risk of implant failure or rejection. Second, bioprinted implants are made from live cells, which means they can integrate with the surrounding tissue and promote healing. Finally, bioprinted implants are much less expensive than traditional implants, making them accessible to a wider range of patients. As 3D printing technology continues to advance, it is likely that bioprinted bones and joints will become an essential part of orthopedic medical advancements.

Yazdanpanah, Z., Johnston, J. D., Cooper, D. M. L., & Chen, X. (1AD, January 1). 3D bioprinted scaffolds for bone tissue engineering: State-of-the-art and emerging technologies. Frontiers. Retrieved May 21, 2022, from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fbioe.2022.824156/full 

The Next Generation of Orthopedic Casting Emerges

Patient with broken wrist wearing Cast21 waterproof cast alternative

In the next few years, Cast21 will be the new standard for orthopedic casting. Created to address the shortcomings of traditional plaster and fiberglass casts, Cast21 provides patients with a much-needed update to the way orthopedic cast care is delivered. 

Cast21 is a new orthopedic casting alternative that has many advantages over traditional casting methods. Engineered with a unique open lattice structure made of lightweight materials, the Cast21 system includes a sleeve that is placed over the injured arm and then filled with a fast-curing proprietary formula that hardens in minutes, making it quick care for both patients and doctors. Once the sleeve is fully hardened, the result is a strong, yet lightweight cast alternative that is comfortable to wear and easy to remove. 

In addition, more insurance companies are covering this technology, and the trend is expected to continue. As a result, the cast alternative is an innovative and desirable option for treating patients with orthopedic injuries. Thanks to these advances, Cast21 is quickly becoming the new standard in orthopedic casting and the preferred choice for medical providers around the world. 

Engineered Stem Cells for Bone Regeneration 

In the field of orthopedics, gene therapy was an exciting new area of research with the potential to revolutionize the way we treat fractures. Unlike traditional methods of fracture healing, which rely on surgery and external fixation, gene therapy offers a minimally invasive approach that uses the body's own natural healing process to repair the damage. 

​​In recent years, stem cell-derived exosomes have emerged as a promising therapeutic option for bone regeneration. These exosomes are tiny vesicles that are secreted by cells and contain a variety of biologically active molecules. Due to their small size and ability to cross cell membranes, exosomes have been shown to be effective in delivering genes and other therapeutics to target cells. 

Additionally, exosomes derived from stem cells have been shown to promote regeneration and reconstruction of multiple tissues, including cartilage and skin. However, the clinical use of stem cell-derived exosomes has been limited by the lack of reliable sources and insufficient therapeutic potency. In order to overcome these limitations, researchers have begun engineering stem cells to produce exosomes with enhanced regenerative effects. This approach holds promise for the development of new and improved therapies for a variety of orthopedic conditions.

​​Li, F., Wu, J., Li, D., Hao, L., Li, Y., Yi, D., Yeung, K. W. K., Chen, D., Lu, W. W., Pan, H., Wong, T. M., & Zhao, X. (2022, March 15). Engineering stem cells to produce exosomes with enhanced bone regeneration effects: An alternative strategy for Gene Therapy - Journal of Nanobiotechnology. BioMed Central. Retrieved May 21, 2022, from https://jnanobiotechnology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12951-022-01347-3 

Robotics Will Play a Larger Role in Orthopedic Surgery

Image of robots performing surgery in an operating room.
Master Video - stock.adobe

Robotics is increasingly playing a role in orthopedic surgery, and this trend is likely to continue. Robotics offer a number of advantages over traditional surgery, including greater precision, less invasiveness, and shorter recovery times. In addition, robotics is particularly well-suited for orthopedic surgery due to the high degree of complexity involved. Orthopedic surgeons often need to make small, delicate incisions, and robotic technologies can provide the necessary level of control. As a result, robotic surgery is often the preferred option for patients who are seeking to minimize their surgical risk. As orthopedic surgery becomes increasingly reliant on robotics, it is likely that robots will play an even larger role in the future. 

​​Robotics, ASCS combined show promise in orthopedics. Healio. (n.d.). Retrieved May 21, 2022, from https://www.healio.com/news/orthopedics/20220215/robotics-ascs-combined-show-promise-in-orthopedics 

Mixed Reality (MR) Integrated in Orthopedic Surgery 

Since its inception, mixed reality technology has been used in a variety of industries to create immersive, interactive experiences. Recently, MR has begun to gain traction in the medical field as well, with promising applications in orthopedic surgery.

Mixed reality systems use both virtual reality and augmented reality to create realistic 3D holographic models of patients for preoperative planning. By being able to view the patient's anatomy in an immersive 3D environment, surgeons can more accurately plan their procedures. Additionally, this technology can also be used in the operating room to help guide the surgeon and ensure precision.

So far, mixed reality technology has shown great promise in orthopedic surgery. Not only does it have the potential to improve preoperative planning, but it can also help increase accuracy and communication during surgery. 

Mixed reality technology is still in its early stages, but it has the potential to transform orthopedic surgery. This new technology offers safer, more precise surgeries with shorter recovery times for patients. As MR technology continues to evolve, it is likely that we will see even more applications for it in the medical field. 

Lu, L., Wang, H., Liu, P., Liu, R., Zhang, J., Xie, Y., Liu, S., Huo, T., Xie, M., Wu, X., & Ye, Z. (1AD, January 1). Applications of mixed reality technology in orthopedics surgery: A pilot study. Frontiers. Retrieved May 21, 2022, from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fbioe.2022.740507/full 

Other Emerging Medical Innovations to Look Out For: 

3D Printed Organs 

Close up image of a 3d printed heart
xiaoliangge - stock.adobe

While the thought of 3D printed organs may seem like something out of a science fiction movie, it is actually a reality that scientists are working on. In recent years, 3D printing has emerged as a potential game-changer in the field of medicine. 

Researchers are now working to develop customized 3D-printed organs, including hearts and kidneys, from patients’ own cells. By printing organoids made from the patients’ cells, researchers hope to create organs that are less likely to be rejected by the body and can be delivered more quickly than traditional organ transplants.

Currently, researchers are in the early stages of 3D printing organs, and it may be several decades before we see a fully functional bioprinted organ. As it stands, the technology is still in its infancy and can be costly to implement for large-scale production. However, this cost is expected to decrease as the technology improves. Researchers also face other crucial challenges. One of the biggest challenges is ensuring that the tissue has an adequate supply of blood vessels. Despite these challenges, scientists are making progress and it is foreseeable that 3D printed organs will become a reality in the future. This technology has the potential to save countless lives and change medicine as we know it. 

Leonard, B. (2022, March 16). Kidneys on demand: How 3D printers could make organs. POLITICO. Retrieved May 21, 2022, from https://www.politico.com/newsletters/future-pulse/2022/03/16/kidneys-on-demand-how-3d-printers-could-make-organs-00017316 

The Future of Orthopedic Medicine 

It is always exciting to see what new innovations are on the horizon in the orthopedic industry, and there have been some incredible breakthroughs that are greatly improving the quality of life for patients with musculoskeletal conditions.

Smart implants are one trend that we are particularly excited about in the coming years. This technology has the potential to greatly improve the fit and function of orthopedic devices, and it is likely that we will see more innovative products emerging in this area in the coming years. 

It is truly an exciting time to be involved in orthopedic medicine, and there is no doubt that even more life-changing breakthroughs are on the horizon. We can't wait to see what new products and applications emerge in the next few years! 

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