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3D-Printed Implants Create Buzz at Annual Spine Meeting

DePuy Synthes launched a new portfolio at the North American Spine Society meeting that includes 3D-printed titanium interbody implants for spinal fusion. Globus Medical also introduced a new family of 3D-printed implants that is expected to help the company close an important competitive gap.

DePuy Synthes launched the 3D-printed Conduit titanium interbody implants at NASS 2019 in Chicago, IL last week.

DePuy Synthes (a unit of Johnson & Johnson)

While robots and navigation systems tend to hog most of the spotlight at large spine gatherings like the recent North American Spine Society (NASS) meeting, 3D-printed implants also created plenty of buzz in Chicago, IL last week.

Among the companies showing off 3D-printed devices were Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) orthopedic business, Warsaw, IN-based DePuy Synthes. The company launched a platform of 3D-printed titanium interbody implants made possible by J&J’s 2018 acquisition of Wurmlingen, Germany-based Emerging Implant Technologies (EIT).

DePuy said its 3D-printed Conduit implants are 80% porous, enabling them to mimic the natural bone structure and facilitate spinal fusion. The Conduit implants also include a nanoscale surface roughness that may lead to an increase in adhesion of osteoblasts compared to conventional titanium materials; EIT cellular titanium material with a modulus of elasticity similar to cancellous bone; and clear visualization of the space in and around the implant both intra- and post-operatively on X-ray, CT scan, and MRI without significant interference as a result of the structure of the interbody cage.

Meanwhile, Globus Medical introduced its Hedron family of 3D-printed spacers. From an implant perspective, Needham & Co.’s Mike Matson said in a Sept. 27 report that this was the Audubon, PA-based company’s most significant introduction at NASS 2019.

“While [Globus Medical] is the leader in expandable spacers, it has lagged competitors in the 3D-printed titanium spacer category,” Matson said in his report. “[Globus Medical] plans to close this gap, however, with the launch of its Hedron family of spacers with initial FDA clearances expected in 4Q19.”

The analyst noted that the new implants incorporate many of the features of the company’s spacers that are not 3D printed.

Zimmer-Biomet also highlighted its TrellOss 3D-printed titanium spacers at the meeting, and like Globus, Matson said the TrellOss implants also fill a gap in Zimmer-Biomet’s product lineup.

“[Zimmer-Biomet] was one of the pioneers in porous metal implants with its Trabecular Metal spacers, which are made of tantalum as opposed to titanium,” Matson said. “But Trabecular Metal is radiopaque and we think that its compromised imaging limited its adoption in spine.”

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