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Spine Feature

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Top Ten Best New Spine Technologies for 2011

Robin Young • Tue, November 8th, 2011

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The winners of the 2011 Orthopedics This Week Best New Technology award for Spine are: Advanced Biologics, LLC, Aesculap, Inc., AlloSource, CoAlign Innovations, Inc., Ellipse Technologies, Inc., NeuroLogica Corporation, NLT SPINE, Nocimed, LLC, The Society for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery and Thompson MIS.

This annual award rewards inventors, engineering teams, surgeons and their companies who’ve created the most innovative, enduring and practical products in 2011 to treat back pain. To win the Orthopedics This Week Best New Technology for spine care, a new technology must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be creative and innovative.
  2. Have long-term significance to the problem of treating the diseases of the spine. Does this technology have staying power?
  3. Solve a clinical problem. To what extent does this technology solve a current clinical problem or problem that is inadequately solved today?
  4. Does it have the potential to improve standard of care?
  5. Is it cost effective?
  6. I would use it.

Our panel of surgeons scores every submission on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the highest score) for each of the above criteria.

We and our panel of surgeons were impressed that inventors—despite ever growing hurdles to innovation and entrepreneurism in spine—still managed to create a solid group of new products to submit for the 2011 Orthopedics This Week Spine Technology Awards.

We offer our thanks and deep appreciation to the engineering teams, surgeon inventors and the following companies for submitting their best ideas this year:

Advanced Biologics, LLC Aesculap, Inc. AlloSource
Aspen Medical Products, Inc. Cardinal Spine, LLC CareFusion
CoAlign Innovations, Inc. Ellipse Technologies, Inc. Exactech, Inc.
joimax, Inc. K2M, Inc. Life Spine, Inc.
MEDICREA Minimus Spine Inc. NeuroLogica Corporation
NLT SPINE Nocimed, LLC NuVasive, Inc.
OsteoMed LLC Ranier Technology Ltd. SI-BONE, Inc.
SIGNUS Medical, LLC Society for MIS Surgery SpineWorks
Thompson MIS

Our panel of surgeon judges was:

  • Dr. Neel Anand: Director of Orthopaedic Spine Surgery at the Cedars-Sinai Spine Center
  • Dr. Scott Boden: Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Director of the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center
  • Dr. Isador Lieberman: Medical Director of the Scoliosis and Spine Tumor Center and Orthopedic Surgeon with Texas Back Institute
  • Dr. Ken Pettine: Co-Founder of Rocky Mountain Associates in Orthopedic Medicine and Co-Inventor of the Maverick™ Artificial Disc.

So, without further delay, here are the ten best new spine technologies for 2011 arranged in alphabetical order:

AccuLIF® Expandable Interbody Fusion Cage – CoAlign Innovations, Inc.

From left to right: Murali Kadaba - Chief Scientific Officer, John Ashley - VP of R&D, and John Barnett - CEO and the AccuLIF® Expandable Interbody Fusion Cage
AccuLIF is a crescent shaped, expandable Interbody Fusion (IBF) cage which is implanted by the surgeon using a transforaminal approach. The cage’s design incorporates a dual piston/cylinder shape and may be hydraulically expanded using sterile saline after being implanted by the surgeon. CoAlign created an articulating insertion handle for the surgeon to use to ensure optimal implant positioning between vertebral bodies. As the AccuLIF cage expands, a spring activated, automatic, locking mechanism locks the implant at 1mm increments. Finally, the engineers built into the implant a link between the two locking cylinders which ensures that the device will lock evenly. CoAlign is located at 150 North Hill Drive, Suite 1, Brisbane, California 94005. Phone: 760-683-4215.

AlloStem® Stem Cell Bone Growth Substitute– AlloSource

From left to right: David White - Sr. Product Manager, Kevin Cmunt - Sr. VP, Tom Cycyota - President and CEO, and Judy Lawten - VP, Marketing. The AlloStem® Stem Cell Bone Growth Substitute.
AlloStem is a living cellular allograft implant which is a unique combination of partially demineralized allograft bone and adipose derived mesenchymal stem cells. The material is designed to offer surgeons an alternative to iliac crest harvest or other autograft materials for the surgical repair of boney defects. AlloSource’s proprietary processing system permits an intact partially demineralized allograft strip or cube to be implanted as a bridge between vertebrae. AlloStem is an osteoconductive scaffold, osteoinductive natural growth factors and living cells to support new bone formation. AlloSource is located at 6278 South Troy Circle, Centennial, Colorado. Phone: 720-382-2756

BodyTom™ – NeuroLogica Corporation

From left to right: Greg Johnson, Alison Aviles, David Webster, Matt Dickman, Dr. Eric Bailey - CEO. and Benjamin Powell. The BodyTom™
The BodyTom is a battery powered, portable CT scanner—radiolucent spine table included—with impressive imaging power. The BodyTom transforms any operating room into an intraoperative spine imaging suite. BodyTom is a full body, 32 slice CT with an impressive 85cm gantry and a 60cm field of view. It is capable of imaging the entire spine, from C1 to S5 in one pass, providing the surgeon with high quality 3D images of both bone and soft tissue. Finally, the BodyTom easily interfaces with surgical navigation systems that accept DICOM images. Intraoperative images can be uploaded to surgical navigation via PACS connection, direct network cable link, wireless transmission or digital media transfer device (CD/USB). NeuroLogica is located at 14 Electronics Avenue, Danvers, Massachusetts 01923. Phone: 978-564-8500.

BoneBac Press – Thompson MIS

From left to right: Robin Young - Publisher OTW and Mick Perez-Cruet, M.D., M.S., on behalf of Thompson MIS. The BoneBac Press
The BoneBac press recycles bone collected from the surgical site during spine fusion surgery. BoneBac press improves upon the customary bone harvesting methods in several ways. Unlike traditional bone harvesting, BoneBac press keeps the harvested bone at the surgical site. Using a vacuum hose, the BoneBac pulls harvested bone into the press. Once collected, the surgeon can separate blood and fluid from the bone using the easy press system. BoneBac press is reusable and sterilizable. The system was designed to also work with allograft bone extenders. Finally, using the BoneBac press spine surgeons can significantly reduce if not eliminate secondary graft site morbidity. BoneBac Press’s inventor is Mick Perez-Cruet M.D., MS. He can be reached at You can reach Thompson MIS at or call 888-932-6949.

Hydrolift Vertebral Body Replacement System – Aesculap, Inc.

From left to right: Larry Rubens - VP-Aesculap Implant Systems Sales, Chuck DiNardo - President and CEO, Jeffrey Cole - Director Spine Marketing, Gordon Young - Product Manager Spine, and Ira Benson - VP, Spine Marketing.  The Hydrolift Vertebral Body Replacement System.
The Hydrolift Vertebral Body Replacement System uses hydrostatic pressure to expand and maintain distraction of the disc space. Other expandable cages use a screw mechanism or ratchet style mechanical approach to achieve distraction. Because of this, other cages require a very high cross sectional area and therefore excess bone removal while performing the corpectomy. Since Hydrolift uses hydrostatic pressure and an external hydraulic pump, surgeons can preserve more of the patient’s host bone. Finally, the Hydrolift incorporates a failsafe mechanism in the hydraulic pump which limits the amount of pressure available to minimize or prevent endplate damage. Aesculap can be reached at 3773 Corporate Parkway, Center Valley, Pennsylvania 18034. Phone: 610-984-9242.

Magnetic Expansion Control (MAGEC™) – Ellipse Technologies, Inc.

The Engineering team from Ellipse. From left to right is Peter Tran, Arvin Chang, Blair Walker, and Scott Pool. The MAGEC™ Dual Rods
The Magnetic Expansion system uses a cylindrical, radially-poled internal magnet to noninvasively lengthen or shorten an implanted rod. Early onset scoliosis patients have spinal deformity which is diagnoses before the age of ten. Surgically fusing the spines of these patients at such a young age creates an enormous risk of permanently undersizing the thoracic cavity and therefore reducing the amount of space for developing lungs and organs. Repeated surgeries to adjust rod length raises new problems. The MAGEC™ system solves this problem. The magnet inside MAGEC’s rods drives a lead screw which moves the two ends of the rod. The surgeon controls the magnet using an External Remote Controller (ERC). In a lengthening procedure the patient lies awake on an examining table. The ERC is placed on the patient’s back and within a few minutes the MAGEC rod has been non-invasively lengthened. If the patient feels discomfort, the rod can also be shortened until the discomfort disappears. Ellipse Technologies may be reached at 13900 Alton Parkway, Suite 123, Irvine, California 92618. Phone: 949-837-3600.

Nociscan™ Virtual Discogram™ – Nocimed, LLC

James Peacock - CEO, Nocimed, LLC and Nociscan™ Virtual Discogram™
Nociscan is a non-invasive test which distinguishes painful from non-painful lumbar discs and thereby better localizes the source of chronic, severe discogenic low back pain. Nociscan is a custom, proprietary software application that works in concert with commercially available Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) pulse sequence installed on standard, high field MRI systems. Nociscan’s proprietary protocols create a non-invasive exam to acquire chemical information from lumbar intervertebral discs. The data is processed to measure “disc pain biomarkers” in the discs that have been correlated to pain. Nociscan then uses a diagnostic algorithm based on measured biomarkers to generate a “Nociscore” which is useful for distinguishing painful from non-painful discs. Nocimed is located at the Plug and Play Tech Center, 370 Convention Way, Redwood City, California 94063. Phone: 650-241-1740.

OsteoAMP Structural – Advanced Biologics, LLC

From left to right: Scott Calotte - VP Sales & Marketing, Amit Govil - President, and Jason Mattiello - Strategic Sales & Marketing Manager. The OsteoAMP Structural  Interbody Spacers.
OsteoAMP is an allograft derived interbody spacer and granules which, according to the company, has more growth factors than DBMs and, in animal models, grows bone at a higher rate than stem cells or synthetics. The key to OsteoAMP is the process Advanced Biologics uses to create the material. Collagen subfibrils are swelled to increase growth factor binding sites. The growth factors contained within bone marrow are solubilized and the soluble growth factors then bind to the swollen collagen subfibrils. When the subfibrils are reduced back to their original size and configuration, they have a higher amount of BMP-2 than, for example, 100% DBM products. The process, in other words, significantly increases the growth factor content of the implant. Advanced Biologics is located at 555 Corporate Drive, Suite 260, Ladera Ranch, California 92694. Phone: 800-272-0267.

PROW™ FUSION Intervertebral Body Fusion Device – NLT SPINE

From left to right: Robin Young - Publisher OTW and Didier Toubia - Chief Ececutive Officer, NLT SPINE. The PROW™ FUSION interventebral Body Fusion Device.
The PROW device is a tool for distracting, preparing and filling the intervertebral space less invasively (7mm width conduit) and thereby magnify the benefits of minimally invasive TLIF procedures (shorter length of stay, shorter time to ambulation and lower overall cost). The key to the PROW is its unique conduit—which is really a kind of cannula, but with so much more engineering and capabilities that it is more accurately described as a conduit. The articulating conduit gives the surgeon the ability to insert and use large implants and surgical tools through a small incision. Because the tool articulates, it enters the body straight but then sequentially deflects at an accurate inflection point so as to form a predefined shape on the treatment site. NLT SPINE may be reached at 6 Yoni Netanyahu Street, Or Yehuda, Israel 60376. Phone: 972-3-634-4514.

SMISS Prospective Data Registry – Society for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

From left to right: Robin Young - Publisher OTW and Choll Kim, M.D., Ph.D. SMISS Prospective Data Registry.
While not a specific implant, the role of data in improving patient selection, surgical plans and overall treatment protocols is as important—potentially even more so—than hardware or technique. The Society of MIS Surgery (SMISS) (as well as NASS and AAOS) has committed to developing a registry program to collect data from surgeries, organize it and then provide it back to the surgical community. SMISS is conducting a multi-center prospective study of minimally invasive spinal surgery data for the treatment of degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, disc herniation and degenerative scoliosis. This registry is the first large-scale, multi-center study of spinal fusion and endoscopic surgical method outcomes with minimally invasive spine surgery. For more information, please contact Kevin Liang Ph.D. at

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