A relative newcomer to the field of surgical navigation systems, Intellijoint is quickly positioning itself as a disruptive technology company. Specializing in orthopedics, the company is rolling out intellijoint HIP, a surgeon-controlled, 3D mini-optical navigation system that provides many unique advantages over similar options on the market.
To learn more, Surgical Products interviewed Armen Bakirtzian, CEO and co-founder of Intellijoint Surgical.
What can you tell us about Intellijoint Surgical?
Our first product is called intellijoint HIP. It helps orthopedic surgeons performing total hip replacement surgery prevent complications like dislocation, revision, leg length discrepancies, readmissions, and litigation. Our product helps control the most important variables that surgeons manage by eye at the moment, i.e. cup position, leg length, offset and hip center of rotation. We can help surgeons deliver a superior hip replacement by providing them with accurate intraoperative information during surgery.
We’ve done over 5,000 hip replacements, so far. We’re growing at a very high rate year over year, and we have hopes and plans for aggressive growth in the U.S. this year.
What’s unique about the technology?
Navigation has been around in orthopedics for a long time. It’s shown to improve the accuracy with which components are placed in the body. It can improve managing leg length, as well as reduce postoperative complications.
But traditional navigation systems — although they accomplish those things — were extremely time-consuming, they disrupted surgical workflow, they were expensive to acquire and operate, and they introduced a lot of inefficiencies into the hospitals.
With our core technology, we wanted to preserve the essence of navigation, which is providing valuable intraoperative information. But we also wanted to solve the other problems. So we wanted our product to be time-neutral and integrated into the workflow of the surgery.
Our product is very fast. We add only 2.9 minutes to surgery. We have comparable accuracy to other navigation systems and robotic platforms, but we really are focused on the speed, the efficiency, and the integration of the workflow.
I think surgeons value the information that navigation gives them, but they don’t want to put up with the extra time, the extra cost, and the disruption of their workflow that traditional systems have forced upon them.
What new FDA clearance did you recently earn?
The new FDA clearance was for revisions of hip replacement surgeries. This is a very significant achievement for us because we’re one of the only systems suitable for revision procedures.
intellijoint HIP is a imageless navigation system, so we don’t require any preoperative imaging to power our system, and that’s a key differentiator. Any image-based system — or any robotics platform, for that matter — can’t be used in a revision setting because of all the metal artifacts that exist in the body during imaging. So you’re handcuffed with those other systems.
And most people would argue that revisions are when you need the most help with additional intraoperative information. Having an indication cleared for revision surgeries is significant for Intellijoint and significant for the orthopedic population performing revisions.
We’ve already started to show an improved outcome if you use intellijoint HIP on a revision versus not. That data looks very promising. We did a study that followed 72 patients for 2 years after their revision with intellijoint HIP. None of those patients had any dislocations or required a re-revision at their 2-year follow-up appointment. That’s a significantly better result than you see with revision procedures performed freehand, where dislocation rates can be up to 28 percent and the re-revision rates 8-33 percent.
Can you tell us more about your commitment to providing a strong solution for revision surgeries?
Revisions are much more difficult procedures than primaries, and there are more and more revisions every year. Most primary hip replacements will need to be revised at some point over their lifespans, which can be influenced by how the primary was completed. As primary hip replacement patients age, they may require a revision, so there will be a higher demand for these procedures in the future.
There is a higher complication rate when it comes to revisions because of the increased difficulty and surgeons typically don’t have any assistance performing these procedures. The demand for revision procedures on the average orthopedic surgeon will climb in the coming years.
Our platform provides one of the only solutions that is accessible to every orthopedic surgeon. We work flexibly with hospitals to give them access to a technology solution that ultimately helps their surgeons deliver the best possible care. They can acquire intellijoint HIP on a fee per use basis or as a capital investment. I think that puts us in a unique position. intellijoint HIP is suitable for all major surgical approaches in hip replacement — and we’re suitable for primaries and revisions.
What added value do you think is available to healthcare providers when they use intellijoint HIP?
One of the values we can offer to the healthcare system is that the intellijoint HIP system makes surgery less likely to require corrections afterwards. So if a patient is re-admitted to the hospital for a preventable revision surgery, there are unnecessary resources consumed by the surgeon and the hospital to care for that patient. Preventable mistakes can also hurt the reputation of a surgeon and a hospital, which can be damaging to the ongoing business of both stakeholders. Further, if you can prevent any patient from coming back for a surgical revision, you’ve opened up more resources to do more primary hip (or other) procedures.
And as our orthopedic surgeons get older and retire, there are going to be fewer of them doing surgery, even as the rate of procedure is on the rise. intellijoint HIP allows for improved efficiency and improved outcomes that can result in fewer repeats, fewer revisions, and fewer readmissions. That ultimately reduces the burden on the healthcare systems of today and tomorrow.