BRADENTON, Fla. — Orthopedic shoulder and elbow specialist Dr. Avi G. Kumar with Coastal Orthopedics Sports Medicine & Pain Management (CoastalOrthopedics.com) is at the forefront of a possible shift in the way physicians are able to stabilize proximal humerus fractures during surgery.
Fractures of the upper part of the humerus are the third most common type of fractures that orthopedic surgeons treat after hip and wrist fractures, but they are also one of the most complicated. In December, Dr. Kumar secured a U.S. patent for an anatomic humeral fracture plate, an implanted medical device that is contoured for the shoulder and designed to provide better fixation for the different fracture patterns. Specialized screws are mated to the plate to stimulate a callous healing.
Dr. Kumar plans to name the Gaudi plate after Spanish Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, whom he drew inspiration from growing up. The plate allows the shoulder tuberosities, which is bumps on the top and front of the upper part of the humerus that attach to tendons and ligaments, to be set in their normal position and internally fixed. The device has specific cutouts for suture needles, allowing them to pass through the plate even after it has been applied to the actual bone.
“The goal is to create a natural healing response,” Dr. Kumar said. “It allows physicians to not only fix the fracture but to also reduce the time it takes to heal.”
The device is also designed to help incorporate the rotator cuff in the plate itself, allowing physicians to successfully repair soft tissue as well as fractures. Dr. Kumar’s plate can be used to support bone grafts into the fracture site, which will be particularly beneficial for elderly patients with osteoporosis who have experienced bone loss.
Having spent the past 15 years as a shoulder and elbow specialist, Dr. Kumar noticed numerous problems with the current technology while following his patients’ progress after surgery. Currently, only about 40 percent of proximal humerus fractures are fixed anatomically.
“It’s difficult to fix these fracture because often the shoulder muscles tend to shift or move the bone fragments out of position,” Dr. Kumar said. “I wanted to design a device that would provide physicians with more options to stabilize and maintain the fracture position during surgery.”
Dr. Kumar began working on different iterations of the project a little more than 10 years ago before filing a patent in 2014. On December 27, 2016, Dr. Kumar secured the patent for both the system and the method that provides better fixation for humerus fractures.
With the new medical device and method, Dr. Kumar is hoping to increase the anatomic fixation rate of proximal humerus fractures to 75 to 80 percent. Through his patented process, Dr. Kumar believes he will be able to achieve anatomic fixation, maintain reduction and stimulate fracture healing.
“I wanted to be able to help more of my patients and anyone that has suffered these types of fractures,” Dr. Kumar said. “Now we will have a medical device that can address the issues we have had in the past such loss of fixation of bone and soft tissue. The hope is that our patients can regain their independence and return to their normal lives as quick as possible.”
He plans on hiring a manufacturing company to test the prototypes in an approved Food and Drug Administration lab over the next several months. The company will have to conduct different tests to make sure the plate is biocompatible with the human body and is mechanically strong enough.
“Fortunately, I was able to get the patent issued,” Dr. Kumar added. “It is truly is a novel. There is nothing similar in the marketplace.”
Once he receives the results of the testing, Dr. Kumar will have to file with the FDA to apply for approval to market the medical device. Dr. Kumar believes it will be another year or two before the device is available in the marketplace.
About Coastal Orthopedics Sports Medicine & Pain Management
Founded in 1973 and based in Bradenton, Fla., Coastal Orthopedics is home to 17 orthopedic surgeons and pain management physicians who maintain hospital affiliations with Blake Medical Center, Manatee Memorial Hospital and Lakewood Ranch Medical Center. In addition to three offices and two ambulatory surgery centers each serving Florida’s West Coast, Coastal Orthopedics’ board-certified and fellowship-trained physicians and surgeons provide patients with the very latest in pain and orthopedic treatment technology. The company strives to repair and heal injuries relating to the entire musculoskeletal system. For more than 40 years, our highly skilled staff of physicians and surgeons has treated patients in specialty care including sports medicine, joint replacement, pain management and rehabilitation. Patients can experience restoration of function both surgically and non-surgically through the use of physician-guided strengthening, therapy, medications, injections and stretching. For more information, please visit CoastalOrthopedics.com or call 941-792-1404.
About Dr. Avi G. Kumar
Dr. Avi G. Kumar specializes in traumatic, acute and chronic injuries of the shoulder and elbow. He is one of only a few physicians in Florida who performs the Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement and is the only fellowship-trained orthopedic shoulder and elbow expert along the southern Gulf Coast of Florida. Dr. Kumar received his doctor of medicine from Emory University. He completed his residency at Tufts University, New England Medical Center before completing a fellowship in orthopedic shoulder and elbow surgery at the Florida Orthopaedic Institute. Dr. Kumar is a reviewer for the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery and maintains a board certification with the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.