Meet the Minds and Hands Behind Oss|Ability’s TTA Wedge System

Can you describe Oss|Ability’s TTA Wedge System?

We believe that planning and careful execution of the plan is the key to a successful operation. The foundation of the TTA Wedge System is an instrumented osteotomy that allows the surgeon to control the final size and position of the tuberosity. We combine this with the latest 3D printed titanium implant technology that encourages the bone to heal without the use of graft. The result is that the surgeon can expect fewer surgical complications and faster convalescence.

How does the TTA Wedge System help vets perform repeatable surgeries?

The surgeon is able to dial in the instrument settings for the planned osteotomy preoperatively. During the surgery this instrument engages with anatomical landmarks that locate it with respect to the tibia. This allows the surgeon to cut the osteotomy where they planned it without having to make subjective decisions during the surgery. The end result is that the surgery is more repeatable because the osteotomy is always in the right place.

What exactly is the wedge implant constructed from?

The TTA Wedge Implants are made by 3D printing titanium, which is the new gold standard in orthopaedics. We have significant experience with 3D printing of medical devices and have built a proprietary scaffold structure that rapidly encourages bone ingrowth. It is the combination of biocompatible materials and our interconnected porous scaffold that promotes fast healing without the use of bone graft or expensive synthetic substitutes.

Brent, your passion for medical technologies is immense. Can you describe what first sparked your interest?

During my surgical residency at Liverpool I witnessed the clinical development of advanced technologies like canine total elbow replacement. I also spent time with Dr Noel Fitzpatrick (The Bionic Vet) who was leading his own veterinary revolution. These innovative surgeons inspired me and when I returned to NZ I met my future business partner, Seamus Tredinnick, who was developing patient specific implants for humans. This was a tipping-point for me as it allowed me to leverage my surgical experience with Seamus’ expertise in the biomedical technology sphere. These factors led us to found Oss|Ability with the aim of simplifying and advancing veterinary surgery using world-class technologies.

Seamus, what is your previous experience developing medical implants?

I have been involved with the design and application of 3D printed titanium implants since 2007. Initially these products were one-off devices for complex hip reconstructions for a handful of surgeons. These products have been incredibly successful and are now a leading solution in the patient specific implant market. In addition to my role in the driving seat of Oss|Ability, I am involved with other human orthopaedic companies to develop implant products and university based research into tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

Brent, how has your experience led you to develop a system so other surgeons can minimize their learning curve?

The first orthopaedic surgery I performed was a dog’s radius and ulnar fracture in the UK. Unfortunately I applied the plate incorrectly and it failed shortly after surgery. My search for operative excellence began. At first I believed that training with leading orthopaedic surgeons and clocking up years of experience was the answer, but occasionally mistakes still crept into my surgeries. Eventually I discovered that the answer to shortening the learning curve and reducing errors is to use the principles of engineering, not just experience.

New Zealand surgeons have been fast to adopt Oss|Ability’s TTA Wedge System. Has the positive response encouraged Oss|Ability to create any new products for the veterinary industry?

The veterinary industry is an innovation engine and we have found surgeons are quick to take full advantage of new products and technology. We are working with a fantastic group of surgeons to not only refine our existing products but to develop exciting new solutions as well. We have one new product in particular that we think is going to revolutionise the way we think about veterinary orthopaedics, stay tuned!

What is the significance of Oss|Ability being a New Zealand based company?

Our business model allows us to base ourselves anywhere in the world. Being headquartered in New Zealand certainly helps us to attract talented employees as well as giving us access to fantastic local suppliers throughout Australasia. Currently we manufacture all our products in either New Zealand or Australia and have found that we can produce top quality products at globally competitive rates. We have found that the Australasian veterinary community is highly innovative and it suits us to be at the centre of that.

Seamus, what is the driving force that gets you out of bed each morning?

We have an amazing opportunity to make a positive impact on pets and pet owners lives and it is a privilege to be involved with that. It is incredibly satisfying to see a problem, dream about a solution, and to be part of the team that makes that become reality. At the end of the day, it’s a challenge and I love it.

Brent, how do you balance your clinical work with growing a technology business?

The clinical work and developing technologies enhance each other and I spend half my week on each. I am constantly exposed to new clinical challenges and am always asking myself how things can be simpler and better. I then bring those ideas to the team at Oss|Ability. We work together to develop new surgical techniques, implants and instruments. It’s very exciting because other surgeons then get to benefit from all that work.

Where can Australian vets sign up to discover how to use Oss|Ability’s TTA Wedge System?

VetPrac’s upcoming Advances in TTA with Oss|Ability – Dry Lab One Day Workshop, May 27th, Education Development Centre, 4 Milner St, HindmarshSA 5007. Click here to register.

Brent Higgins is a Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Surgeons, a Director of Oss|Ability and works as an orthopaedic surgeon at VetSpecs, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Seamus Tredinnick is CEO of Oss|Ability.