Today, hip arthroplasty is already at a high standard. Companies are researching new solutions with the goal of continuously extending the life of the artificial joints.
New developments in the area of orthopaedic implants are the result of close cooperation between surgeons and medical device manufacturers. In terms of product development, engineers working for the manufacturers are working together with surgeons, discussing clinical experiences and ascertaining the clinical requirements for the new product.
Every year Zimmer’s Research and Development department test over 100 ideas. On average, only one of these many ideas is marketed as a new product. The development time can take up to 5 years.
Implant prototypes undergo thorough laboratory testing during which they are examined for material wear-and-tear and resilience. Most of the testing is done in accordance with the guidelines of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and, if applicable, of country-specific standards organisations which the manufacturers and the regulatory authorities in the respective countries have agreed upon.
During this laboratory testing the implants are tested in so-called simulators, frequently in more than several million test cycles. The artificial system is subjected to the same stress as would be the case in the human body. Ten million test cycles correspond to about 5 years of service life inside the body[i].