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From basic research to product development and clinical validation, innovation is a key AO pillar, advancing our work to promote excellence in patient care and outcomes in trauma and musculoskeletal disorders.

At the core of the AO's innovations and approvals process is the AO Technical Commission. A key part of developing and bringing innovations to market, the AO Technical Commission is central to the AO landscape. In 2020, an extraordinary year due to global travel restrictions limiting on-site collaboration, it continued to play a crucial role in quality control and product development and acted as an essential link between AO clinical divisions, the other institutes, and the AO's global network.


Numerous implants and instruments addressing clinical problems have resulted from the long-standing cooperation between the AO Technical Commission and DePuy Synthes. This collaboration has, over the past decade, resulted in more than 200 innovative solutions contributing to the AO’s mission: promoting excellence in patient care and outcomes in trauma and musculoskeletal disorders.

AO Technical Commission approvals in 2020

In 2020, the AO Technical Commission approved a suite of products that will benefit patient outcomes across all areas in which the AO is active.

3.5 mm LCP Distal Femoral Osteotomy Plate

This veterinary solution is indicated for treatment of distal femoral angular deformities and distal femoral fractures in medium- and large-size canine patients.

Reamer Irrigator Aspirator System (RIA II)

The next generation RIA 2 offers several new device features to improve reaming and bone harvesting procedures.

Advanced Retrograde Femoral Nailing System (RFN-A)

The enhanced fixation options of the RFN-A will be beneficial to expand the retrograde nailing indications toward far distal fractures, to improve implant anchorage in poor bone quality, and to support early patient mobilization.

Tibial Nailing-Advanced System (TN-A)

This new system addresses the challenge of fixing short bone fragments with adequate stability.

Self-retaining screws

This solution supplements the latest lower extremity nail and is incorporated in the Tibial Nailing-Advanced (TN-A) system.

DePuy Synthes Hammertoe Continuous Compression Implant

This extramedullary implant for hammertoe fixation is designed with Nitinol to provide continuous compression and superior rotational stability with greater distraction resistance.

Universal Small Fragment System 3D Line Extension

Manufactured using 3D printing technology and utilizing non-implantable stainless steel, the templates provide an economical, effective complement to all USF plate types.

In addition, the AO Technical Commission in 2020 approved the Patella Plate, FibuLink, and the Monobloc reamer for trauma; the 1.3 LCP System for veterinary; and line extensions to the MatrixMidface 1.3 and MatrixMandible 2.0 systems for craniomaxillofacial (CMF). Detailed information about these solutions will be made available within the upcoming months on the Innovations microsite.

AO Innovation Translation Center officially launched

A year out of the ordinary, 2020 opened with the launch of the AO Innovation Translation Center (AO ITC) with a completely new operating model creating a streamlined process for prioritization and validation of all sources’ innovative responses to clinic needs and funneling these solutions into surgeons’ hands. The AO ITC creates pathways for ideas to become innovative solutions and better positions the AO to identify and apply digital technology for all its solutions.

Innovation at the AO was further demonstrated by the launch of AO Global Data. The world’s most comprehensive musculoskeletal outcomes repository, AO Global Data offers insights and guidance to help members optimize their practices for patient outcomes management, payer negotiations, marketing, and more. Learn more. 

Moreover, the AO ITC’s Technology Transfer submitted two projects—the small bone external fixator and the biphasic plate for CE marking. Required for products manufactured anywhere in the world that are then marketed in the European Union, CE marking indicates that a product has been assessed by the manufacturer and deemed to meet EU safety, health, and environmental protection requirements. Approval for both projects is expected in 2021.

Additionally, the AO released a new round of strategy fund resources and approved three new projects in 2020. The strategy fund supports inventors with early-stage ideas to reach proof of concept, focusing on clinical tools and technologies for any element of the entire patient journey in musculoskeletal disorders, as well as educational tools, platforms, or channels for lifelong training of surgeons. Learn more.

More from the AO Technical Commission

AO Technical Commission meetings 2020

The AO Technical Commission (AO TC) maintained its momentum even against the backdrop of COVID-19 by employing digital technology to finalize development of several new projects. AO TC members generally met twice as many times in 2020 compared to the previous year and demonstrated the dedication and flexibility to drive projects forward through numerous videoconferences, time zones notwithstanding.

Industrial partners supported the effort by shipping the necessary materials, such as prototypes and bone models, to members in advance of meetings. Anatomy labs—fundamental to the AO ITC’s development—were organized on short notice by identifying regional solutions under the constraints of ever-changing travel restrictions. The AO Research Institute Davos (ARI) provided an environment in which to realize such labs, several of which were streamed in real time worldwide for those unable to join on-site. In one exceptional case, two wet labs—one in the United States and one in Europe—were conducted simultaneously with the moderating chairperson joining by videoconference.

AO TC meetings 2019 2020
Europe 28 11
North America 22
Asia 6 0
Australia and Oceania 1 0
Videoconferences 3
Total 60 112

Explore more of the achievements from the AO Technical Commission in 2020 below and here.

Meet the Experts

Despite COVID-19, excellence in innovation was on display in a live, interactive webinar in 2020.

Experts Symposia

Expert minds came together in Brazil to improve available treatments.

Innovation Awards

The AO Technical Commission recognized outstanding achievements in development and innovation.

Smart Digital Solutions Task Force

The group published its first white paper, giving an overview of how digital solutions can match orthopedic trauma surgery needs.

"Innovation remains at the forefront in all the AO does to further its mission: finding solutions to clinical problems that meet patient treatment needs."

Robert McGuire, AO Foundation President

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