US-based Exactech is partnering with Canadian medical device developer Statera Medical to design the world’s first smart reverse shoulder implant.

A reverse total shoulder replacement is a type of shoulder surgery where a surgeon removes the damaged parts of the shoulder and replaces them with artificial parts. The companies said they are aiming to develop a smart implant that can “help surgeons select the correct implant size and offset for a particular patient and provide the best balance of joint mobility and stability for all major joints”.

Selecting the correct implant size and offset is important as a very loose or tight reconstructed joint can cause joint instability, scapular stress fracture and implant loosening.

A smart implant is expected to provide surgeons and researchers with data to better understand reverse shoulder biomechanics and quantify a patient’s soft tissue tension and adjust the ideal implant offset and size for a particular patient.

Orthopaedic devices are expected to reach nearly $50bn by the end of 2024. The orthopaedic shoulder replacement market segment is expected to grow from being worth approximately $1.6bn in 2023 to over $2.3bn in 2030, as per GlobalData market analysis.

There have been multiple advancements in the shoulder and joint implant space. In November 2023, Biocomposites launched SYNICEM antibiotic-loaded preformed spacers for hips, knees and shoulders in the UK. The spacers have been developed to address the challenges that result from traditional intra-operative moulded and handmade spacers. By maintaining articular space and assisting in infection treatment, the spacers help surgeons revise the hip, knee, and shoulder.

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In June 2023, Smith+Nephew’s AETOS Shoulder System received 510 (k) clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The system is intended for both anatomic and reverse total shoulder arthroplasty. It comes with the AETOS Meta Stem, which helps maintain patient anatomy, maximise stability and preserve bone.

Another development in the field is an implant system designed to protect injured tendons. Anika Therapeutics’s Integrity implant system is a hyaluronic acid-based scaffold with bone and tendon fixation components intended to protect the rotator cuff. The system is intended to offer better strength and healing over the use of collagen patches, which have traditionally been used to repair orthopaedic tears and protect against further damage.