KMC – International Pioneer

Kaplan Medical Center – International Pioneer:
Insertion of a biodegradable implant into a human hand 

Dr. Amir Oron, Hand Surgery Specialist:
“The new treatment will help patients suffering from pain and restricted hand movement
(Challenged by daily activities such as: opening jars, writing, typing, using a tap)
regain full function and maintain healthy muscles and tendons with no complications”

This week, for the first time in history, a complex operation took place in the hand surgery ward run by Dr. Abraham Hess at Kaplan Medical Center in Israel. During surgery a unique biodegradable implant was inserted into the hand of Mrs. Zehava Uzon (in photo) age 58, from Rishon Le Zion. This innovative prosthesis includes a balloon, which inflates in order to fill the cavity of the bone that was extracted from the base of the thumb. After a few months the device dissolves whilst providing the required firm support to the base of the thumb.

Dr. Amir Oron, who performed the surgery in collaboration with hand surgery colleague Dr. Mordechai Weizenblit, explains that “this is a well-known and very common phenomenon in which the cartilage of the base of the thumb slowly erodes and consequently causes pain and squeaking sounds. At first the pain is felt during strenuous efforts to perform a manual task but as time goes by the symptoms get worse and simple daily tasks become challenging and extremely painful as one is required to open a jar, squeeze a towel, write or type etc.”

In cases in which traditional care such as physiotherapy, medication and steroid injection fails, surgery is suggested to the patient. The operation is performed under general anesthetic during which the trapezium bone situated at the base of the thumb is removed. “During surgery doctors often use permanent prosthesis in order to fill the cavity left by the removed trapezium bone. These permanent devices tend to wear or break as time goes by and the grip is 30% weaker post surgery,” he explains, “hence the vast importance of the innovative biodegradable prosthesis”.

“Great effort has been invested worldwide to invent a biodegradable prosthesis such as this and we are glad to be the first in the world to put it to use here at Kaplan Medical Center” says Dr. Oron. “The device fills the gap the trapezium once occupied and maintains its size which results in a speedy recovery and a satisfying surgical outcome.” Doctors believe that using this inflatable biodegradable device will help sustain the optimal strength of the thumb. “The prosthesis is located within the gap the trapezium once occupied and maintains its size which means muscles and tendons remain the same thus grip power remains unchanged. The great advantage in using a biodegradable prosthesis is that it allows scar tissue to build around it and after a few months it dissolves and new fibrotic tissue takes over. In fact, this prevents complications which derive from the use of permanent devices.”

Mrs. Zehava Uzon, who lives in Rishon Le Zion, works with the elderly community and toddlers in care facilities. “I came to the point where I had to give up my job because I was struggling to move my hand and suffered constant pain. The marvelous doctor at Kaplan Medical Center explained the advantages of a biodegradable prosthesis. I expect my hand to completely heal and hope my life goes back to normal and I look forward to an unrestricted routine.”

The biodegradable prosthesis was technologically developed by the Israeli Bio Technology Company “Aurtho Space” and is currently in the advanced stages of clinical trials. “There is no doubt that the first surgery performed at Kaplan Medical Center is a ray of light for the hopeful hand surgery patients who are currently finding daily tasks both challenging and painful,” explains Dr. Oron, “and as in other medical fields various biodegradable mechanisms are tested in order to prevent the potential complications caused by foreign bodies such as permanent implants located within the patient’s body.”