Smith & Nephew to sell OrthAlign precision alignment tech alongside its artificial knees

KneeAlign navigation system used in total knee replacement surgery--Courtesy of OrthAlign

Usually in the news due to constant rumors of an impending takeover by Stryker ($SYK), Smith & Nephew ($SNN) announced that it will distribute precision alignment surgery technology alongside its artificial knee implants under an agreement with Aliso Viejo, CA, startup OrthAlign.

The agreement covers OrthAlign's Knee Align technology in 21 countries across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. Knee Align "provides both tibial and distal femoral precision alignment in a simple, palm-sized, single-use device, providing real-time data," according to a release. It has already been used during about 40,000 total knee replacements (arthroplasty).

The palm-sized device provides real-time data on the alignment of the implant collected via accelerometers and other sensors, and works with all implant systems. In a company video, OrthAlign officials touted clinical studies of the product and said their navigation system is faster and cheaper than custom patient instruments and computer-assisted surgery systems.

According to the release, a study found that 94.9% of OrthAlign patients had their knee replacement aligned within 2 degrees of neutral, compared to 92.5% of patients who received traditional computer-assisted surgery. They also performed better on overall mean mechanical alignment of the limb.

"From the region of the globe where the volume of knee replacement is growing rapidly, OrthAlign adds a critical enabling technology to complement Smith & Nephew's industry leading knee brands such as Journey II, Legion and Genesis II," said David Cook, Smith & Nephews' director of knee reconstruction in emerging markets, in a statement. "We believe this partnership will allow Smith & Nephew to provide further benefits to both healthcare professionals and the patients they serve in this evolving and dynamic geography."

OrthAlign last year signed a similar distribution agreement with Lima Corporate to sell the technology in European markets, and in 2014 entered into an exclusive distribution agreement with Biomet--now Zimmer Biomet ($ZBH)--related to the Japanese market.

The company is in the process of launching the OrthAlign Plus to improve the quality of direct anterior hip replacement.

"Further differentiation and technological advancement in joint products has become increasingly difficult. The market is now turning to surgical tools and technologies that will make surgeons more accurate, give them greater confidence through real-time data, and provide repeatability," said OrthAlign CEO William Maya in a statement, following the company's $15 million VC financing in November 2014.

Meanwhile, 2015 Fierce 15 company OrthoSensor sells a device to improve the alignment of knee implants and boasts partnerships with Zimmer Biomet, Stryker and Smith & Nephew, which offer the implant in conjunction with various knee models, including the Journey II and Legion, in the case of Smith & Nephew.

- read the release

Special Report: FierceMedicalDevices' 2015 Fierce 15 - OrthoSensor

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