Spinal Dynamics Sticks Its Neck Out
For the past decade, fusion, cage or not, has been the gold standard in spine surgery. Now, a handful of companies, including Seattle-based Spinal Dynamics, is betting that fusion will be replaced by joint replacement, in this case artificial disc replacement, in spine surgery just as it did in total hip and knee surgery many years ago. Spinal Dynamics' main challenge lies in overcoming surgeon skepticism, especially in cervical procedures where fusions are common and very successful. And to help, they've lined up a distribution agreement with spine market leader Medtronic Sofamor Danek.
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Medtronic recently declared that InFUSE, the company's blockbuster spine bone graft product that provides the growth factor rhBMP-2 as part of a lumbar fusion cage, was well on its way to becoming standard of care in spine surgery. The company's success has fueled interest in a plethora of potential entrants into the biologic bone formation market.
Today, the market for spine surgery is growing by more than 20% annually based on fusion technologies alone, despite the fact that those technologies are decades old and flawed. However, a heightened awareness of the clinical drawbacks of fusion is fueling prolific company creation in a new spine motion preservation segment of the industry. Some 118 start-ups in spine are dotting the landscape. Many hope to offer new devices that address spinal joint reconstruction; artificial discs, disc nuclei, annulus repair, facet joint replacement, and dynamic or flexible stabilization of the spine.
Stryker's recent acquisition of SpineCore represents just the latest move of a large orthopedics company into the promising field of disc replacement, a technology expected to boom over the next four years.