Mapping the Future of Spine

A small but select group of leading spine surgeons, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and leading strategic spine companies met for three days last month at a remote, cell phone challenged location to debate, dissect and discuss the future of the spine industry. Their collective conclusions painted a picture of fewer fusions, much less invasive procedures and motion preservation in one of many forms.

One of the major topics discusses was disc arthroplasty.  Interestingly, the discussion never went to refinements or modifications of existing designs. It immediately veered to nucleus repair or replacement; in other words, biologic healing as opposed to replacement. In terms of implants, the surgeons actually took a step back and pulled up posterior dynamic stabilization as a potential “new, new thing.” Here are some of the comments:

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  • Dynamic Stabilization is the “new, new thing.” It will have a big role in the future of spinal medicine. They like its posterior approach, the quick FDA pathway and the constrained motion.
  • #1 objection to dynamic stabilization is that it is as invasive a surgical procedure as regular fusion.
  • There appears to be a rising incidence of new facet joint pain associated with disc arthroplasty.
  • None of the surgeons mentioned refinements or modifications to the current crop of disc arthroplasty products. They all are more interested in nucleus replacement products than in disc arthroplasty.
Written by Robin Young, CFA