Orthosoft revives medical software with Linux

Montreal-based Orthosoft Inc. has chosen IBM workstations running Linux as the new platform for its Navitrack Station computer-assisted orthopedic surgery system.


immediately, Orthosoft will use IBM M Pro 6220 IntelliStation workstations to run its Navitrack software in the system sold to hospitals around the world. It will replace the Silicon Graphics Inc. workstations running Unix that were previously used in the Navitrack system. Orthosoft will continue supporting the Unix systems, said Cynthia Reinert, marketing and communications manager.

Reinert said Orthosoft wanted a small, reliable hardware platform, was looking to provide Linux support and was attracted by IBM’s ability to serve its clients internationally. “Being IBM, we’re going to be able to support and service this worldwide,” said Marie-Josee Normand, business development manager for life sciences at Markham, Ont.-based IBM Canada Ltd.

The companies did not have a previous relationship, Normand said. They began talking last summer when Orthosoft was looking for a new platform for its orthopedic system.

Orthosoft, founded in 1995, developed the Navitrack system to help orthopedic surgeons place implants in knee, hip and spinal surgery. It allows a surgeon to visualize the exact position of instruments and implants relative to a patient’s bone structure, in three dimensions and in real time as the instruments and implants are inserted, thus helping avoid damage to nerves and tissue.

It can be used for total knee and hip replacements and other operations such as inserting pedicle screws to correct and stabilize diseases of the spine. Navitrack integrates with existing hospital systems and is certified under the International Electrotechnical Commission’s IEC 601 standard for the safety of medical electrical equipment.

In some cases, Orthosoft says, the Navitrack system completely eliminates the need for computer tomography (CT) scans before surgery.

The system is mounted on a compact wheeled cart with a retractable keyboard drawer and a pivoting arm that supports the monitor.

IBM said its technology will help surgeons see and manipulate images faster than was previously possible.

Upgrade kits for existing Orthosoft systems are also available.

Reinert said Orthosoft is well established in Europe, has some installations in the Montreal area and is looking at opportunities elsewhere in Canada and building its North American business. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared Orthosoft’s systems for sale in the U.S. in mid-2003. “North America in general is starting to adopt this technology,” Reinert says. The company says the Navitrack navigation system has supported more than 8,500 surgical procedures in Europe and North America.

Orthosoft will work with Microage, an IBM business partner, to assemble and deliver the units. IBM will provide worldwide support and service.

“It’s clearly a growing company and a growing market and we’re very, very excited to be able to partner with Orthosoft,” Normand said. She says the company hopes to do business with Orthosoft in other ways in the future.

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