DOST develops knee replacement at half the cost of regular treatment

July 27, 2015





A LOCALLY designed and manufactured replacement to problem knees is now available, at half the regular price.

The Axis Knee System was developed by Filipino inventor and entrepreneur Dr. Ramon Gustilo, an orthopedic surgeon, and first made available only in May.

Half of the 2.5-year, P150-million research and development cost was funded by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), Department of Science and Technology.

“About 100,000 Filipinos need knee replacements, according to our estimates,” Jude L. Sasing, president of Orthopedic International, a 60-person orthopedic device manufacturing company based in Cabuyao, Laguna, said yesterday in a PCHRD forum. 

“A painful knee is disabling, and in extreme conditions prevents walking, standing, going up or down the staircase,” said Sasing, a biomedical engineer. “The cartilage in the knee doesn’t regenerate although it is replenished naturally. If it is completely worn out, it needs to be replaced after other alternatives like weight control, pain killers and other treatments have been explored. If one lives long enough, arthritic patients will eventually need knee replacements.”

He said about three percent of Filipinos are arthritic. 

“We didn’t invent knee replacement,” Sasing explained. “What’s new is that the knee replacement is designed for Asians.” Orthopedic International also focused on the instrumentation that dispenses of the one year training required by conventional replacement procedure. 

This is true not only in the Philippines; many other Asian countries need skilled surgeons to do the procedure, he said. “There’s a big market out there, we have a system that other orthopedic surgeons in other countries can use, so it can expand beyond the 2,000 Filipino patients now needing knee replacements a year.

“Knee implants need to be aligned right relative to the patient’s bone, which needs specialized skills,” he pointed out. “There are computer-aided navigation, an instrument that costs P25 million which is why there’s only one in Manila and another in Cebu. This instruments also ups the cost of surgery by P25,000.”

The technology does the alignment without the computerized navigation, Sasing said. 

“This is where our innovation comes in–we measure the center of the knee, center of the ankle and center of the hip, the part where computer navigation comes in. Our mechanical axis finder is an instrument that measures from the center of the hip to the center of the knee to the center of the ankle–all must be aligned right,” he added.

The rejection rate is very low because the replacements use standard implant-grade materials , a super alloy made of cobalt chromium and polyethylene.

“After the procedure, the patient can do ballroom dancing, bowling and is ambulant without crutches,” Sasing said, adding it will take 20 years before replacement is required.

The local knee replacement each costs P60,000 in government orthopedic hospitals and P70,000 in private hospitals, or about half the cost of imported knee implants. The one-and-a-half hours procedure and about three days of hospitalization needed for a conventional knee replacement procedure costs about P250,000 to P450,000 for the whole procedure, including professional fee, hospitalization and medication.

One reason for the high cost is that there are only 60 orthopedic surgeons qualified to do joint replacement surgery in the Philippines where just 2,000 procedures are conducted each year. 

The technology should increase the number of qualified surgeons from about 700 orthopedic surgeons in the Philippines today. “With our simple procedure, many would be qualified to do it,” Sasing said.

Since May, the procedure has been made on five patients, including a priest, lawyer and school teacher–all senior citizens.

The implant is approved by the Department of Health’s Food and Drug Administration; “we’re walking on its approval by the US FDA,” Sasing said. Patent is pending, a process that takes about five years to complete.

Feb 12, 2019. Axis Knee System was featured in the first DOST-PCHRD Talakayang HeaRT Beat, Press and Media Conference

Oct 25, 2018. Mahahalagang Kaalaman Tungkol sa Total Knee Replacement

Jul 13, 2018. Karagdagagang Impormasyon Tungkol sa Axis Knee System

May 24, 2018. Axis Knee System is Available Nationwide!

Feb 07, 2018. What Makes Axis Knee System unique?

Nov 22, 2017. Axis Knee System 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Dinner

Aug 30, 2017. Dr. Ramon B. Gustilo recipient of 2017 UPAA Distinguished Alumnus Award in Medicine

Jul 17, 2017. Axis Knee System team awarded with Outstanding Technology Commercialization Award at NSTW 2017

May 04, 2017. POA 27th Midyear Convention

Mar 24, 2017. AAOS 2017 Annual Meeting at San Diego, CA

Nov 22, 2016. 67th POA Annual Convention

Nov 12, 2016. 22 surgeons attended Axis Knee System Training at POC

Oct 06, 2016. Orthopaedic International goes to THAILAND!

Sep 30, 2016. Axis goes to (Bicol) Access!

Aug 18, 2016. Filipino orthopedic surgeons begin use of modern, cheaper way of knee surgery

Aug 01, 2016. DOST showcases PH-designed knee replacement

Jul 27, 2016. OII welcomed the Senior Citizens Association for a plant tour

Jun 16, 2016. Pinoy company now manufactures knee implants designed for Asians

Jun 01, 2016. No More 'Going Weak at the Knees'

May 19, 2016. Orthopaedic International clears way for conquering Osteoarthritis

May 18, 2016. Orthopedic global expert promotes PCHRD-supported technology “Axis Knee System”

May 15, 2016. Axis knee System: Confidence in Every Step

May 09, 2016. Locally Developed Knee Surgical Technique Puts Patient Back Into Life Mode

May 06, 2016. DOST-PCHRD Conducts Science Media Tour For Awareness On “Knee Replacement Surgery” Availability In PH

Mar 02, 2016. OII at the AAOS Annual Convention in Orlando, Florida

Nov 01, 2015. Joint effort propels development of ‘affordable’ knee replacements

Jul 22, 2015. Philippine firm makes knee implants affordable


Orthopaedic International, Inc.