Ranking the Most Disruptive Orthopedic Technologies in the Future

There is alot of hype out there. Allow me to try to shamelessly guess which technologies will be the most impactful (as usual, just my opinion). Ranking #1 is the most impactful. Ranking #7 is the least impactful.

#1/Printed Tissue: Bespoke 3D printed tissue with the patient’s own cells for a single surgical application. Think about synthetic bone, cartilage, tendons and ligament. This may be done by a device company or locally at the hospital or surgery center.

#2/AI and Machine Learning: AI and ML are being used to improve the diagnosis, treatment planning and follow-up of patients with orthopedic conditions. When companies acquired enormous data sets, the AI will be unquestionably better than humans at diagnosis, treatment planning and follow-up of patients.

#3/Augmented Reality: AR will give surgeons mind-blowing visuals and information with a tiny flip-up lens. AR will be voice-activated and will turn an average surgeon into a super surgeon. AR will be a much bigger impact on orthopedic surgery than VR in the future.

#4/Printed Metal Implants: 3D printing technology is being used to create customized orthopedic implants, such as joint replacements, that are tailored to the individual patient’s anatomy. Bespoke is already here, it’s just not cost effective yet. One unique implant for a single patient.

#5/Virtual Reality: Virtual reality technology is being used to simulate surgeries and train surgeons, and is also being explored as a way to help patients with pre-operative planning and post-operative rehabilitation. The most impactful use of VR in the future will be surgical training.

#6/Stem Cells: Stem cell therapies are being developed to help repair or regenerate damaged or diseased bone and joint tissue, and are expected to have a significant impact on orthopedic surgery in the future. The two big hurdles are: 1) keeping the cells in the right location long enough and 2) demonstrating better clinical outcomes beyond the placebo effect.

#7/Robotics: Robots were supposed to improve the precision and accuracy of orthopedic surgeries, reduce the risk of complications and improve recovery times. Clinical data has not shown these improvement. Instead, robots have been used as sales and marketing tools for better access.