The new spinal implant
The new spinal implantIsrael news photo: Scorpion Surgical Technologies

Anyone who has undergone spinal surgery is familiar with the chronic pain and recurring problems. New spinal patients, however, may have it easier as the field of orthopedics stands to be revolutionized yet again by Israeli science and engineering.

Scorpion Surgical Technologies, an Israeli orthopedic surgical-technology company, has developed a spinal anchoring device implant to replace fusion and stabilization procedures on the spine. The implant introduces a new, less invasive alternative to current orthopedic methods and prevents the movement of vertebrae that results from ruptured discs, and the chronic pain caused by pseudarthritis and osteoporosis.

Video: presentation of new spinal anchoring device implant

“The device has particular value for osteoporotic patients,” explains Yaron Aizenbud, General Manager of Scorpion. “By enabling a tight grip despite the soft bone, it is expected to prevent loosening on the vertebra and the need for periodic revision surgery.” The anchor is also ideal for scoliosis patients. Surgical straightening of the spine can be permanently braced with this technology, allowing the patient to stand up straight without a back full of pedicle screws or fusions.

“The other applications our technology can be used for are disk disease patients” explains Aizenbud. He says that the technology significantly reduces the risk of removing the disk and provides a much faster procedure.

As depicted in the above video, the surgery begins with a drilling technique, designed by Scorpion, which creates two precisely placed curved tunnels from opposite sides of the vertebrae, intersecting at the center of the bone. A steel cable is then run through the tunnels.

An interlocking curved nail system is inserted over the cables and into the bones, at which time the cable is tightened and the anchor is secured. Rods are attached to the anchored implants, and the bones are tightly held in place. Aizenbud says that the curved nail system “will provide a less invasive posterior approach, enabling 360⁰ fusion that can substantially reduce surgical risk and procedure time.”

Clinical trials for the implant have not yet begun, but Aizenbud says that there have been successful pre-clinical cadaver tests in the last several months.

The tests were conducted by Dr. Nissim Ohana, Head of the Spine Department at Rabin Hospital in Petah Tikva. Biomechanical tests of the new anchor have been conducted at the laboratory of Dr. Werner Schmolz in Innsbruck, Austria, and shown that the system places less stress on the vertebrae than current surgical methods for spine stabilization.

Aizenbud says clinical trials will begin in about a year, and 20-30 trial procedures will be necessary before the system is ready for the market. Scorpion’s device is expected to be available as a medical treatment two years from now.

The cost of our implant will be about the same as the current procedure of pedicle screws.

Scorpion developers say the anchor will last a lifetime and require no additional operations. Eventually, the technique may permanently supplant current methods of spinal surgery since it aims to prevent the degeneration of bone and disk cartilage deterioration commonly experienced by spinal surgery patients.