The differences in the shape of the femur part of the female and male knees (above) are addressed by Zimmer's new female-specific replacement knee. (Illustrations courtesy of Zimmer Inc)
Zimmer's decision to create a replacement knee specifically for women was largely influenced by surgeons, according to the company. Women make up a two-thirds majority of replacement knee recipients. Many of these recipients were telling their doctors that they found the standard artificial knees uncomfortable. The company looked into it and found that women's knees were thinner, narrower, and tracked differently than the male knee. Given this information, Zimmer felt that an entirely new replacement knee would best serve women.
With a similar focus in mind, Cook just announced that they are creating a new division called Cook Women's Health. The medical device manufacturer will use this branch of the company to create devices that will ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂchange the landscape of women's health,ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ according to a company press release. The company already provides devices that handle problems like stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Both are among the only devices currently treating these health problems. Cook Women's Health will look to further their involvement in other underserved areas of female health.
Last, but not least, when Johnson & Johnson–owned Ethicon sought out an avenue for growth, the company decided on Vascular Control Systems Inc. Their new merger partner specializes in devices that treat uterine fibroids, a problem afflicting a large number of women, as well as other devices for ob-gyns. The reason given for the acquisition? Vascular Control Systems could provide technology that would help Ethicon further advance women's therapies.
While the device industry has hardly been ignoring women's health problems until now, an increased focus like the one these three companies are looking to place on the issue can only help. Perhaps these companies are not only paving a path toward more advances in women's health, but also marking the beginning of the next growth market for device companies. After all, gender-specific devices could extend to all sorts of applications where anatomical distinctions call for it. The research that Zimmer conducted proves that we may not be done figuring out all those distinctions, either.
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