A Medical Device Daily

"Steerable" is a word several companies across the medical device industry use to describe their products. There are steerable guidewires, steerable catheters, and even a steerable pill camera designed as a diagnostic tool for the colon that uses a hand-held magnet as a control system (Medical Device Daily, June 25, 2008). Now the word steerable is being applied to technology used in arthroscopic procedures.

OrthoDynamix (Jacksonville, Florida) this week introduced a new steerable device platform designed to address joint pain issues from sports injuries, genetic damage and pre-arthritis. According to the company, ArthroSteer "significantly improves access in hip and other arthroscopic procedures."

Arthroscopic procedures allow orthopedic surgeons to visualize, diagnose, and treat problems inside a joint. While it is a surgical procedure, it requires only small incisions therefore patients tend to recover more quickly and with less post-operative pain than with open surgery, according to the Arthroscopy Association of North America (Rosemary, Illinois).

The ArthroSteer platform of disposable instrumentation includes four products that OrthoDynamix says allow surgeons to facilitate arthroscopy with a mulit-control device, and steer and reach around joint capsule structures while interacting with tissue that affords not just diagnosis but repair.

"This is the first steerable device designed specifically for arthroscopy that can withstand the rigors of orthopedic surgery and that can deliver enabling technology for the repair of joint capsules," said CEO Bill Dennis. "Since these devices greatly improve the access to joint capsules, specifically the hip, more surgeons will offer hip arthroscopy as an alternative for pre-arthritic injuries and congenital abnormalities."

While there are more than 1.5 million arthroscopic knee and shoulder procedures in the U.S. every year, according to OrthoDynamix, hip arthroscopy is very new, the company said. "This is a very exciting time since hip arthroscopy is helping people with hip pain stay active longer. Moreover, professional athletes can now even extend their careers. If surgery is done early enough, it can possibly prevent cartilage damage and arthritis," Dennis said.

According to OrthoDyanamix, surgeons are able to manipulate ArthroSteer instruments by three specific controls on the handle. While the jaw opens and closes, much like conventional surgical instruments, the flexible spine bends 180 degrees and the jaw rotates 360 degrees "like no other available instrument," the company said.

OrthoDynamix said that it intends to bringing its technology platform to spine, general, OB, CV and thoracic surgery.

OrthoDynamix is a portfolio company of Gyrx (Jacksonville, Florida), a medical device business accelerator. It was established in 2007 to develop disposable steerable surgical instrumentation for arthroscopy. The company is a collaboration of the conveyed attributes of two medical device companies – Gyrx and Medicept (Ashland, Massachusetts). The combination will deliver multiple product offerings developed on one technology platform, Gyrx said. Initial products include steerable 5 mm grasper, punch and 3 mm RF hand instruments.

According to the company, hip arthroscopy has not flourished due to the lack of effective instrumentation and corresponding surgeon training. OrthoDynamix said its ArthroSteer platform has been developed to compete in the $8 billion worldwide joint implant market.

The arthroscopic device market is dominated by six large companies – Arthrex (Naples, Florida), Smith & Nephew (London), ConMed (Utica, New York), DePuy Mitek (Raynham, Massachusetts), Stryker (Kalamazoo, Michigan), and Arthrocare (Austin, Texas).