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Orthopedic and Dental Industry News Complete Archive »

Ortho Products Top List of 2009 Health Innovations BY LAUREN UZDIENSKI, DECEMBER 21, 2009

CNN published a list of the top 10 health innovations of 2009, and two orthopedic products made the list: a bone graft substitute made from wood and the economical Jaipur Knee.

Researchers in Italy have discovered a way to convert a block of wood into a bone graft substitute, which produces a "bioactive, inorganic compound" that "closely resembles" the structure of natural bone. To create the implant, the team heats wood - noting that red oak, rattan and sipo work best - until it's pure carbon. Then the carbon is sprayed with calcium, creating a calcium carbide. The material then undergoes additional processes to produce the final product, which is a carbonated hydroxyapatite. The method costs about $850 for one block of wood, and the researchers say that because the wood is more spongy than titanium or ceramic, new bone will grow more rapidly and securely.

The Jaipur Knee, which also made Time's list of the 50 best inventions of 2009 is a low-cost prosthetic targeted at patients in developing counties who have few options if they lose a limb. Developed at Stanford University by a group of engineering students, the knee costs only $20 and consists of "five pieces of plastic and four nuts and bolts." The knee has reportedly been fitted in over 300 patients in India, and the university is hoping to produce 100,000 of these joints over the next three years.

Other technologies to make the top 10 include the H1N1 vaccine, an "electric eye" that uses a microchip to help blind patients regain sight and a bluetooth stethoscope.

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