New Jersey Patent of the Month – December 2022

Howmedica Osteonics Corp, a medical product development company, has recently been granted a patent for a virtual ligament balancing solution.

During a standard knee replacement procedure, a surgeon replaces a section of the diseased or damaged bones with a prosthetic component. The success of the surgery is ultimately dependent on how properly balanced the soft tissue is post surgery. During surgery, the surgeon must attempt to balance the ligaments in both a bent and straightened position. Unfortunately, traditional methods of balancing these ligaments only consider these two positions and disregard middle positions. 

Howmedica Osteonics’ solution allows a surgeon to perform “virtual” gap balancing preoperatively. This improves patient outcomes, providing the surgeon with more time to overcome complications beforehand. The method uses a ratio of reference bone density to reference ligament tension in a reference population. As it is used, this reference dataset will grow, increasing the accuracy and reliability of the system. The patient’s own knee is then imaged and the reference dataset compared to identify initial ligament attachment points. The attachment locations are identified when the ratio of bone density and ligament tension of the patient is substantially equal to the ratio of the reference data.

This virtual system allows the surgeon to test various attachment points without risking the patient during surgery. It also allows the user to evaluate the laxity and tension of the knee ligament in all positions. The accuracy and pre-operative nature of this solution improves patient outcomes and reduces their risk during surgery.

Based in New Jersey, Howmedica Osteonics serves hospitals and medical centers worldwide, providing medical technologies in the surgical, neurotechnological, and spinal realms.

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