Why orthopedic surgeons are watching Ozempic


Glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists have become a hot topic in healthcare as questions remain on how it will affect the industry as a whole.

Spine and orthopedic surgeons are among the many healthcare professionals that are keeping an eye on GLP-1 drugs.

Some surgeons are already seeing an increased use of these drugs.

"I am seeing increased usage of GLP drugs," John Prunskis, MD, CEO and medical director of the Illinois Pain & Spine Institute in Elgin, told Becker's. "Initially, the effect of these drugs will have little impact on spine and orthopedics; however, in a few years time, it will have a bearish effect as thinner people will have fewer spine and orthopedic problems. After a few more years business will pick up again since people will be living longer. I believe usage of this class of drugs will increase."

Thomas DeBerardino, MD, a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon at UT Health San Antonio, told Becker's that GLP-1 drugs could disrupt orthopedics for the better.

"GLP-1 receptor agonists such as Ozempic and Wegovy will be a positive disruptive force in the orthopedic industry, by providing a new way to better control Type 2 diabetes," Dr. DeBerardino said. "GLP-1 receptor agonists such as these have also been shown to reduce fracture risk in this subset of patients. Reducing hip fractures (by almost 40% in one study) in patients with Type 2 diabetes would be an incredible secondary benefit."

However, these drugs still require more research on how it will affect operations and the orthopedic industry as a whole.

"The downside of these medications is that it delays gastric emptying, and that's how it helps make you lose weight because you feel fuller," Max Courtney, MD, chief of joint replacement at Philadelphia-based Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, told Becker's. "But some of our patients may need to skip a dose or they need their NPO time [before surgery] to be longer. Our anesthesiology colleagues are actively doing research into the effect with the anesthesia. We're doing active research. We have several studies ongoing at the Rothman Institute looking at the effect of these medications after joint replacement."

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