By: 30 November 2018
New spine technology trends featured at NASS 2018

Thousands gathered this year at the North American Spine Society (NASS)’s 33rd Annual Meeting to discuss new scientific developments and best practices in spine care. Artur Kim, from iData Research, looks at some key trends featured at this year’s conference

3D printed spinal implants

This has been an exciting year for 3D printed devices in the spinal implant market, a trend that was evident at this year’s NASS. A notable portion of manufacturer exhibits showcased 3D printing/additive manufacturing at their booths, reflecting the numerous companies that have recently received FDA approval and others that have expanded their presence in the space through strategic acquisitions or new product developments.

One of the early adopters of additive manufacturing was 4WEB Medical, which was founded in 2008 and was the first company to receive 510(k) approval for a 3D printed spinal implant. 4WEB’s products are manufactured with a proprietary and patented truss implant design, which features a unique open architecture that allows for up to 75 per cent of the implant to be filled with graft material. The company currently has 3D printed interbody offerings for the posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF), anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF), transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF), cervical interbody fusion (CIF) and lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) surgery approaches. 4WEB also offers 3D printed implants for foot and ankle surgery and is in the process of developing 3D printed solutions for knee, hip, trauma and patient specific orthopaedic procedures.

RTI Surgical launched its unique TETRAfuse 3D Technology in late 2017, allowing the company to bring the first 3D printed polymer-based interbody cage to market. RTI has continued to expand the TETRAfuse product line, which is manufactured using polyetherketoneketone (PEKK), to serve the CIF, TIF and LLIF approaches. The PEKK design of RTI’s implants offer the benefits of titanium-coated PEEK implants, while maintaining bone-like mechanical properties, radiolucency and antibacterial characteristics.

Other manufacturers highlighting their 3D printed technology at the show included Stryker, K2M, DePuy Synthes, Camber Spine, CoreLink, Medicrea, Renovis, NuVasive, ChoiceSpine, Joimax, SIGNUS Medical and many others. With Stryker’s recently announced acquisition of K2M and DePuy Synthes’ acquisition of Emerging Implant Technologies (EIT) in 2017, it’ll be interesting to see how the market for 3D printed spinal implants evolves over the next few years.

Expandable interbody cages

Another key trend at this year’s conference was an increased focus on expandable interbody cages. One of the companies at the forefront of this movement is Integrity Implants, a startup that sold nearly $10 million in its first year of sales of its only device, FLAREHAWK, and expects to sell $20 to $25 million in 2018. FLAREHAWK is the world’s first expandable interbody cage that expands in height, width and lordosis, while offering a maximum footprint and maximum graft capability.

Other innovations in the space include new device designs such as the FLXfit15 from CoreLink, an expandable PLIF cage that offers up to 15 degrees of controlled and continuous expansion and is capable of articulation, one of the few devices on the market to do so. K2M recently launched MOJAVE PL 3D, a 3D printed expandable PLIF cage that uses K2M’s Lamellar 3D Titanium Technology and features significant adjustment within the expansion range.

Robotics and navigation systems

Surgical robotic and navigational systems have become increasingly popular among orthopaedic surgeons, and many companies have caught wind of this trend, including Medtronic, Zimmer Biomet and NuVasive. Studies have demonstrated that procedures performed using navigation systems across the medical fields result in more accurate surgeries. The results accumulated are still only for short- term studies, but so far, the information gathered warrants the use of these systems over some conventional techniques. NuVasive unveiled their new Pulse integrated navigation platform at the show, the first surgical automation platform designed for spine.

About the author:

Artur Kim is a Research Analyst Team Leader at iData Research. He has led and worked on many spine and orthopaedics syndicated research projects, as well as custom consulting within the global healthcare markets.


About iData Research:

iData Research ( is an international consulting and market research firm, dedicated to providing the best in market intelligence for the medical, dental and pharmaceutical industries. Our research empowers our clients by providing them with the necessary tools to achieve their goals and do it right the first time.