The medical devices industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by increased need for homecare, preventative treatments, early diagnosis, reducing patient recovery times and improving outcomes, as well as a growing importance in technologies such as machine learning, augmented reality, 5G and digitalisation. In the last three years alone, there have been over 450,000 patents filed and granted in the medical devices industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Medical Devices: Cardiothoracic surgery instruments.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

150+ innovations will shape the medical devices industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the medical devices industry using innovation intensity models built on over 550,000 patents, there are 150+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, neurostimulation therapy, smart physiotherapy devices, and real-time IR thermographic imaging are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Precision radiotherapy, electric atomisers, and bio-active prosthesis coating are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are bioresorbable stent coating and cryogenic tissue treatment, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the medical devices industry

Cardiothoracic surgery instruments is a key innovation area in the medical devices industry

Cardiothoracic surgery instruments are used by thoracic surgeons to operate on the heart, lungs, esophagus, and other organs in the chest. They include cardiothoracic clamps, forceps, graspers, needle holders, chest and sternum spreaders, self-retaining retractors, and scissors.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies.  According to GlobalData, there are 650+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established medical devices companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of cardiothoracic surgery instruments.

Key players in cardiothoracic surgery instruments – a disruptive innovation in the medical devices industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to cardiothoracic surgery instruments

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Johnson & Johnson 4614 Unlock company profile
Stryker 3708 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 2381 Unlock company profile
Zimmer Biomet Holdings 2226 Unlock company profile
Smith & Nephew 1775 Unlock company profile
Boston Scientific 1294 Unlock company profile
Edwards Lifesciences 1124 Unlock company profile
Abbott Laboratories 788 Unlock company profile
W. L. Gore & Associates 746 Unlock company profile
Globus Medical 653 Unlock company profile
Terumo 485 Unlock company profile
Becton Dickinson and Co 417 Unlock company profile
Arthrex 410 Unlock company profile
ConforMIS 388 Unlock company profile
Milux Holding 327 Unlock company profile
Cook Group 277 Unlock company profile
ConMed 262 Unlock company profile
AMS Research 249 Unlock company profile
Coloplast 242 Unlock company profile
Implantica Patent 233 Unlock company profile
Ldr Medical 185 Unlock company profile
Biedermann Motech 176 Unlock company profile
BioVentrix 174 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 171 Unlock company profile
Spinal Elements Holdings Inc 170 Unlock company profile
3M 167 Unlock company profile
SpineWelding 153 Unlock company profile
4Tech 151 Unlock company profile
NuVasive 149 Unlock company profile
Anika Therapeutics 142 Unlock company profile
Olympus 139 Unlock company profile
DePuy Synthes 137 Unlock company profile
JCBD 127 Unlock company profile
Ancora Heart 124 Unlock company profile
SI-Bone 121 Unlock company profile
Venus Concept 121 Unlock company profile
Hip Innovation Technology 118 Unlock company profile
Enovis 118 Unlock company profile
B. Braun Melsungen 118 Unlock company profile
Episurf Medical 104 Unlock company profile
AbbVie 104 Unlock company profile
Providence Medical Technology 103 Unlock company profile
Provectus Biopharmaceuticals 102 Unlock company profile
Celling Biosciences 100 Unlock company profile
Paragon 28 98 Unlock company profile
Moskowitz Family 96 Unlock company profile
Silk Road Medical 94 Unlock company profile
Insera Therapeutics 94 Unlock company profile
Rapid Medical 93 Unlock company profile
EQT 92 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Johnson & Johnson is one of the leading patent filers in the field of cardiothoracic surgery instruments. Some other key patent filers in the field include Stryker, Medtronic, Zimmer Biomet and Boston Scientific.

In terms of application diversity, Silk Road Medical leads the pack, followed by Insera Therapeutics and 3M. By means of geographic reach, Implantica Patent held the top position, followed by Hip Innovation Technology and Celling Biosciences in the second and third spots, respectively.

Cardiothoracic surgery instruments allow thoracic surgeons to perform various operations like angioplasty, coronary bypass surgery, transplantation of the heart and/or lungs, etc. Undoubtedly these instruments play a major role in the medical field as it allows the surgeon to operate on the patients.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the medical devices industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Medical Devices.


GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.