Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), more commonly known as brittle bone disease, is a genetic disorder that causes soft bones. Children with this condition have bones that break easily or don’t form normally and they usually experience multiple bone fractures during their lifetime. Recent advances in pediatric orthopedic implants are improving the quality of life for these children.
The story of Ismael illustrates the challenges children born with OI face. He suffered his first broken bone when he was 13 months old and had fractured his leg bones 12 times by the time he was 3. Shortly after that, Ismael had his first surgery and a telescoping rod was placed in each femur. When he was 5, he had telescoping rods placed in each tibia.
Today he gets around well with the help of a walker, which seems like a miracle to his parents because they thought he would never walk. The beauty of the implants is their ability to grow as he grows, reducing the number of surgeries he will need during his childhood and teen years.
Historically, fixed length rods were used to correct deformities and prevent and heal fractures in pediatric OI patients. Since they didn’t grow with the child, the bone would outgrow the rod and be at risk for fracture again.
More recently, the development of telescopic implants has brought a device to market that can extend as the child grows, greatly reducing or eliminating the number of surgeries they need. Advances in surgical implants such as telescoping nails have improved the quality of life for children with skeletal deformities of the long bones, allowing them to live more active lives
The manufacture of orthopedic implants engineered specifically for children is relatively new because the pediatric orthopedic market is not large enough to attract the attention and investment that the adult market does. In fact, pediatric orthopedic surgeons have made do with altered adult implants for years. To fill that gap, a number of companies have made it their mission to design implants for children. As these implants continue to become more sophisticated and precise, they offer young patients the benefits of minimally-invasive surgery, a reduced reoperation rate, and reduced risk of implant migration.
Advances in pediatric orthopedic implants wouldn’t be possible without high precision machining. CNC Swiss machines are ideal for manufacturing component parts with complex geometries. Multi-axis machines, such as the Willemin 408MT, have high-speed spindles which allow for very small tooling.
The next generation of pediatric orthopedic implants will be more challenging to manufacture as they will have greater complexity, more precise dimensions, and tighter tolerances. Mistakes in the production process could potentially harm young patients and must be avoided at all costs.
One of the ways to reduce risk and ensure a high level of quality assurance is with design for manufacturing (DFM). Design for manufacturing (DFM) practices allow manufacturers to collaborate with customers during the early stages of product development when it’s easy to make changes for ease of manufacturing complex components.
At Swiss Precision Machining, we have employees with more than 30 years experience in the implant industry. We have invested in the latest technology and the most advanced equipment. This gives us an overwhelming advantage in both engineering and manufacturing pediatric implants.
Furthermore, we constantly strive to stay ahead of the curve — in technology, equipment, skills, and knowledge. We know that children aren’t just small adults and are proud to have the capabilities to meet their unique needs. We manufacture implants that are unbelievably precise and anatomically designed for young, growing bodies.
In addition to our passion for perfect machining and our drive to produce the best possible orthopedic implants, we are motivated by the indescribable satisfaction of having a small part to play in the stories of children like Ismael. As pediatric orthopedic implants become more sophisticated, we will be prepared to manufacture them with the highest level of precision.