Smart devices or smart technologies have become very popular in the last decade. The adjective smart describes technology as being able to self-monitor, learn, and report. Examples include smartphones, smart cars, smart houses, and even smart cities that countries plan to build. The medical field has gotten into the trend as well, especially in the specialty of orthopedics.
On August 30, 2021, the FDA approved the first smart knee implant for total knee replacement surgery called Persona IQ. The implant is made by a medical device company called Zimmer Biomet. On their website, Zimmer Biomet describes the device as a “first-to-world smart implant that captures key kinematics data.” Specifically, the Persona IQ helps surgeons by capturing information such as range of motion, walking speed, steps taken, and summarizes how well the patient is recovering after knee replacement surgery. Usually, surgeons have to rely on information the patient can give on their recovery and knee health. However, Persona IQ replaces that with objective kinematics information.
In October of 2021, orthopedic surgeons Peter Sculco, MD, and Fred Cushner, MD of Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) performed the first total knee replacement surgery involving the Persona IQ. In their news article, HSS explains how the knee implant works. Once implanted the Persona IQ wirelessly sends kinematics data to a base station at the patient’s home and then to a cloud platform that the surgeon can access and monitor. Hence, the surgeon can monitor the recovery of the patient remotely, identify problems in recovery early, and change treatment plans to suit the patient quickly.
A smart knee implant also opens up opportunities for patients to take control of their recovery. The day after Persona IQ was approved by the FDA, Zimmer Biomet announced that they are releasing a mymobility app with Apple Watch so that patients can monitor their own knee health, as well.
Overall, the idea of smart implants creates a lot of expectations and excitement for the future. The research for smart implants has been going on for a few years, but Zimmer Biomet was the first company to get their device FDA approved. In Orthopedics This Week publications, they mention that two healthcare companies: OrthoSensor and Johnson & Johnson are interested in getting into the smart implant technology market. The hope for the future is that there will be smart implants for other replacement surgeries like hip and shoulder replacements.