Top Device Stories of 2010: A Look Back and a Glance Forward
This article was adapted from "Top Device Stories of 2010: Waiting for the Other Shoes to Fall," in the January 2011 issue of IN VIVO.
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Noteworthy news from medtech start-ups. This month we profile NinePoint Medical, which is developing technology for real-time diagnosis of esophogeal cancer and e(ye)BRAIN, which aims to diagnose neurological disorders by tracking eye movements. These company profiles first appeared in Start-Up magazine.
A decade ago, the treatment of vertebral compression fractures (VCF) represented one of the fastest - and most innovative - segments of a spine industry that was set to explode. The two principal procedures - vertebroplasty and its distant cousin kyphoplasty - presented surgeons and interventionalists with a minimally invasive option to stop pain and, in the case of kyphoplasty, restore the shape and form to a broken vertebra. Now, two studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggesting that vertebroplasty procedures were no more effective in relieving pain than a placebo treatment have put pressure on VCF companies and doctors, who are facing pushback on reimbursement and some skepticism from even their own specialists.
Once considered the high flying segment of the musculoskeletal industry, the spine industry has finally hit a wall as procedure volumes stall, implant prices tumble, and payors push back on authorizing expensive operations for back pain such as spinal fusion. As economic woes heighten, hand in hand with persistent unemployment just as health care and regulatory reforms kick in, many left the North American Spine Society meeting in early October wondering where the bright spots are in this industry.