Kyocera’s artificial hip joint wearing down the competition

Kyodo

An artificial hip developed by a Kyocera Corp. subsidiary is finding favor in surgeries for osteoarthritis and fractures and has been used in 10,000 cases in the two years since it hit the market in October 2011, company officials said.

Given that doctors perform about 50,000 hip surgeries per year in Japan, the surging popularity of the Aquala Liner by Osaka-based Kyocera Medical Corp. is exceptional, they said.

The device is popular with doctors who want to reduce the risk of repeat operations because it has a special coating on the interlocking section supporting the upper body that makes it last longer than conventional products, they said.

In the Japanese market for artificial hips, two U.S. companies — Zimmer Holdings Inc. and Stryker Corp. — have been dominant. Kyocera Medical aims to take over the domestic market in fiscal 2015 and take its product to Europe and the United States in the next few years.

Kyocera Medical is also developing an artificial knee that it hopes to gain approval to launch as early as 2015.

The problem with conventional artificial hips is that they generate debris over time as the devices wear down. The immune system then tries to remove the debris, and that reaction ends up melting the bones surrounding the artificial joints, ruining their close fit to the body.

The Aquala Liner reduces the debris generated by wear and tear to less than 10 percent of conventional products by covering the surface of the “liner,” which is embedded in the pelvis for use with parts that connect with the femur, with a special polymer.

Some artificial hips need to be replaced in about 10 years, but the Aquala Liner is expected to last for at least 20 years, they said.

“Patients’ scope of activities will expand, allowing them to participate in such activities as golf and overseas travel, which they had given up,” said Yoshio Takatori, a professor at the University of Tokyo graduate school of medicine who jointly developed the product.