As the orthopedic industry has matured in the past 35 years, DBEC has been in a position to continually assess new technologies and designs. In many cases, product development has been driven by rapid technological changes, often oriented toward product differentiation in the marketplace. On occasion, these rapid technological changes have led to significant technical problems with medical devices in the past. While orthopaedic manufacturers are required to file Medical Device Reports (MDR's) for all retrieved devices that are known to them, manufacturers are generally not in a position to proactively seek to evaluate retrieved devices. As a result, unforeseen detrimental impacts may be discovered sometime later, after broad use and a significant period of application. Consequently, academic retrieval laboratories exist as sentinels in an effort to detect device failures prior to widespread harm to patients.
Today’s orthopaedic research facility at DBEC is a collaborative, interdisciplinary effort that combines materials research, engineering design, biomechanical assessment and modeling, and orthopaedic implant evaluation in an interactive teaching environment. Each retrieved device is examined visually, photographed, and rated for clinical damage. Additional material-specific testing is done to assess and understand the observed changes in the devices that occur in vivo. The response of biomaterials to patient demands reveals strengths and weaknesses of both the materials themselves and the design of the components in which they are used. The insights generated through formal assessment of the changes in these materials and devices provide the means to attain our primary goal of improving patient outcomes. Device analysis motivates our basic science program in tribology, materials processing, corrosion, metallurgy, biomechanical analysis, and modeling. The basic science programs inform new material development and novel device design.