Smith & Nephew Endoscopy (Andover, Massachusetts) a subsidiary of Smith & Nephew (S&N; London), reported launching a device that will give surgeons a special “leg up” when it comes to the repair of the pelvic joint.

The lateral positioning system or “universal distractor leg” is being dubbed by the company as an enabler — giving clinicians a way to easily test the range of motion of a patient’s hip during arthroscopic repair of the pelvic joint.

It will be a cost saver for medical facilities whose surgeons use fracture tables — the type used in hip replacement surgery — during arthroscopic procedures. Fracture tables are large and expensive, and aren’t suited to the necessary range-of-motion testing preferred during arthroscopies.

Unlike previous arthroscopic offerings from S&N that are currently on the market, this device allows for the patient to rest on his or her side.

The company said the device can “easily” separate the ball of the femur, or thigh bone, from the socket of the hip joint, and create a space in which a surgeon can insert specialized arthroscopy instruments to repair injuries caused by overuse or trauma.

But what kind of benefit will this be to the patient — if any?

“Probably the most immediate benefit of this device is going to be for the surgeons,” Joe Darling, senior VP and general manager of Smith & Nephew Endoscopy’s Arthroscopic Repair business unit, told Medical Device Daily.

“Vascular and muscle-like tissue typically cover the entry point — requiring a tremendous amount of pressure on the affected area,” he said.

Thomas Sampson, MD of the Total Joint Center at Saint Francis Hospital (San Francisco), said, “The device’s universal distractor leg allows me to easily move the hip joint during surgery, and helps me determine the extent of the pathology and the effectiveness of the repair.”

He added, “The range-of-motion test is particularly important during procedures to treat femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), which surgeons worldwide are performing more frequently to alleviate hip pain.”

FAI results from friction between the ball of the femur and the socket in the pelvis. Without treatment, FAI could lead to arthritis, and possibly a total hip replacement. The number of FAI procedures will double between 2004 and 2010, according to market research.

A little more than a year ago the company released its supine hip positioning system which was met with critical success and support from physicians. The supine positioning system has patients lying slightly on their backs for the arthroscopic repair of the pelvic joint.

“Anytime we develop products, before we bring it into the market we have get feedback from surgeons,” Joe Metzger, a spokesman for Smith & Nephew, told MDD. “Feedback has been favorably positive.”

The company most recently made news late last month (MDD, Aug. 27, 2007), when it reported that it had filed a patent-infringement lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas against privately-held Arthrex (Naples, Florida).

S&N Endoscopy claims that Arthrex’s Retrobutton infringes two U.S. patents held by the company, those patents covering its Endobutton fixation device and similar devices and methods for attaching tissue grafts to bone during arthroscopic surgery in the knee.

The company also just reported FDA clearance for its Journey bicruciate-stabilized (BCS) knee system, the Genesis II total knee system and the Legion revision knee system product lines for gender-specificity product requirements (MDD, Aug. 28, 2007).

Its latest offerings conclude with the Journey Deuce Knee System, a solution that could give a more minimally invasive, bone and ligament-preserving treatment alternative to nearly 70% of all patients receiving a total knee replacement, according to S&N (MDD, July 12, 2007). The implant is called the Deuce because it replaces only the two areas of the knee most commonly affected by osteoarthritis, while keeping the third area intact.

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