Bone Fractures Expected to Contribute to Growth of Orthopedic Implant Market

footprintMinnesota-based orthopedics startup Dgimed Ortho is seeking to raise $2 million for its bone-fracture system. Dgimed is developing Distalock, a nail and drill system that allows orthopedic surgeons to quickly and accurately insert locking screws used to stabilize rod-like implants in patients suffering from long bone (such as thigh bone) fractures. The company has so far raised $550,000 of the $2 million amount.

The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reported in March 2009 on the inception of Dgimed. Surgeons typically treat long bone fractures by inserting a rod, which must be locked in place with screws, down the center of the bone. The process can take 45 minutes and requires X-rays to identify where to place the screws, which exposes doctors to radiation. Dgimed has created a rod that, once inserted into the bone, is designed release wires that mark where the screws should be placed.

According to the company, the device could reduce the time it takes to perform the surgery by more than half, and for about the same cost as existing technology. It also has the potential to cut down on medical costs and reduce or eliminate the need for X-rays. The technology was invented by Dr. Ramon Gustilo of the Minneapolis-based Excelen Center for Bone and Joint Research and Education. The Distalock system has an estimated global market value of $1.5 billion. The company plans to file for FDA approval in the near future.

Earlier this month, long-bone fractures made headlines when a new report warned that the long-term use of bisphosphonates, a type of bone-loss drug, could increase the risk of femur fracture.  A task force convened by the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research identified 310 patients who had a rare type of femur fracture and found that 94 percent of them had taken bisphosphonates for more than five years. Although the researchers linked the bone-loss drugs to femur fracture, they also pointed out that this type of femur fracture is rare, occurring in less than 10 percent of patients taking bisphosphonates.

Bone fractures can occur through traumatic injury or diseases such as certain cancers or osteoporosis. (The National Institutes of Health has a resource center on osteoporosis and related bone diseases.) A 2009 analysis by PearlDiver, a medical market research analytics company, notes that of the 30 million U.S. patients who seek treatment for fracture-related injuries, nearly half undergo surgery or medical procedures. The report forecasts that the trauma market should grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10 to 12 percent through 2014.

Additionally, a 2009 report from GBI Research projects that the global orthopedic implants market will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) rate of 7.8 percent from 2009 to 2016 to reach $41.8 billion. Growth in this market is likely to be driven by an aging population, increased urbanization leading to sedentary work, and rising obesity, among other factors. The report also forecasts that the trauma fixation category will grow to $7.7 billion at a CAGR of 6.0 percent between 2009 and 2016. An April 2010 article in MDDI Magazine provides insight into the state of investments in the overall global orthopedics market.

Some developers of orthopedics technology for bone fractures include NovaLign Orthopaedics (long bone fractures), TriMed (fixation of wrist and ankle fractures), Nutek Orthopaedics (shoulder and wrist fixation), OrthoPediatrics Corporation (pediatric orthopedic products), and DFine (vertebral compression fractures and other spinal disorders).  DFine closed a $36.2 million round of equity financing in July. The company plans to use the funding to support the growing demand for its StabiliT Vertical Augmentation System and accelerate the commercialization of several of its pipeline products.

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