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Orthopaedic design up in the clouds

Orthopaedic design up in the clouds

Waiting times for complex hip and other joint replacements could be slashed in the not-too-distant-future if Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI) spin-out company Formus Labs has anything to do with it.
Named New Zealand’s Best Translational Research Project in MedTech CoRE’s 2017 HealthTech Awards, Formus labs is pioneering a cloud-based, custom orthopaedics programme.

“Our goal is to bring costs down and make patient-matched orthopaedics more accessible by giving surgeons something very easy to use,” says Dr Ju Zhang, company founder and chief architect.

With an active but ageing population, patient-matched joint-replacement is an increasingly popular option. In New Zealand alone there are now 10,000 hip replacements per year.

But the long and costly design process of custom implants impedes their widespread adoption. Keen to change this, ABI researchers with skills in building statistical and computer models partnered with Christchurch custom orthopaedics company Ossis in 2014.

“We used novel algorithms to analyse people’s bodies and then looked at how the shapes of bones differed between populations,” says Dr Zhang. “From this, patient anatomy and optimised prosthesis designs could be calculated.”

In 2016 Formus Labs Ltd was launched using ABI’s population-based models and software to provide a leading edge, cloud-based orthopaedic design platform.

“Our technology means a patient a can have a CT-scan or X-ray of their joint (hip, knee, spinal),” says Dr Zhang. “This is then uploaded to our platform and a draft design of a perfectly-fitting custom titanium implant is quickly calculated and presented as a 3D, fully adjustable model.

“The automatically-generated design is fully customisable by both surgeon and engineer anywhere, at any-time, on any modern browser.”

Formus Lab technology has been trialled with Auckland surgeons and is now attracting interest from international orthopaedics' companies.

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