Tornier, Inc., a global leader in extremities orthopaedics, announced today the first human implant of a shoulder arthroplasty prosthesis based on the company’s proprietary pyrocarbon technology. The surgery was performed by leading orthopaedic surgeons in Lyon, France for a patient with humeral head pathology related to trauma. Designed to meet the unique soft tissue biocompatibility requirements of the shoulder joint, the prosthesis utilized in this procedure was developed and manufactured by Tornier’s dedicated Pyrocarbon Center of Excellence based in Grenoble, France. The implant is not yet commercially available.
Doug Kohrs, President and CEO of Tornier, commented, “We are very excited about our first human implant of a pyrocarbon shoulder arthroplasty prosthesis. This procedure evidences both our progress in applying pyrocarbon technology to the specific needs of patients with shoulder problems, and also Tornier’s corporate commitment to utilizing advanced biomaterials to solve the unmet clinical needs of orthopaedic surgeons and their patients.”
Tornier’s commitment to pyrocarbon technology is based on the material’s unique biomechanical profile of wear resistance and biocompatibility when compared to metals such as titanium and cobalt chrome. Pyrocarbon, or pyrolytic carbon, is a unique, ceramic-like material with an excellent track record for durability and biocompatibility. Pyrocarbon’s wear resistance is based on its extremely hard surface. The material’s soft tissue biocompatibility reflects its very low coefficient of friction and modulus of elasticity that is very similar to bone. Utilizing custom made Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) chambers for the high temperature carbon coating of graphite substrates, the technology required to manufacture pyrocarbon medical devices is challenging and proprietary. Tornier believes that it is the only fully integrated designer, developer and manufacturer of pyrocarbon orthopaedic devices.
The soft tissue biocompatibility of pyrocarbon is ideal for extremity joint repair or replacement, the success of which is much more dependent on soft tissue functionality than is the replacement of large joints such as the hip and knee. Specifically in the shoulder, a major unmet clinical need is the treatment of premature humeral head pathology as a result of trauma or general wear and tear. The successful treatment of these patients requires a prosthesis that will not damage adjacent and healthy soft tissue such as the rotator cuff and glenoid cartilage which are critical to the restoration and maintenance of normal shoulder function.
Extremity orthopaedic implants based on Tornier’s pyrocarbon technology have over ten years of clinical experience. Currently marketed devices include carpometacarpal implants for the base of the thumb, radial head implants for the elbow, and several interpositional implants for the wrist. In addition to several shoulder arthroplasty systems, Tornier has several other pyrocarbon-based extremity products at various stages of development, including the investigational pyrocarbon shoulder arthroplasty prosthesis, which are not yet commercially available.