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After the Cage Rage

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

The long follow-up time in clinical trials and subjective endpoints of pain and quality of life continue to create market acceptance issues for new spinal surgery techniques. Cages are the latest example, as emerging long-term follow-up data bring into question their ability to enhance spinal fusion. Many believe artificial discs will eventually move orthopedics along the continuum from repair and restoration to replacement, but creating a physiologically active device capable of pumping water and waste, and determining which patients will benefit from it, is a formidable long-term challenge. In the meantime, minimally invasive spinal decompression procedures including vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are gaining in popularity, as are, to some extent, radiofrequency techniques such as IDET. But here too, until multi-year follow-data from prospective trials are available, their use will also remain controversial.

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Business & Technology Briefs (11/2006)

A short summary of recent product developments in the Orthopedics/Spine, Aesthetics, Stent, Surgery, and Vascular Markets.

Stryker Expands in Spine with Surgical Dynamics

With so much interesting technology in the spine market today, valuations are sky high. Stryker's $135 million deal for Surgical Dynamics raises eyebrows for its low price. But if it isn't the boldest move in spine, Stryker's deal could very turn out to be a very good one, as the company gains an important foothold in the spinal cage market.

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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