Could Customized Spinal Rods Really Mean No More French Benders?

The North American Spinal Surgery fraternity has its annual congress this week, an event that is always accompanied by a flurry of news items. Companies like to save all their best news for release when they figure the specialist audience will actually be listening rather than operating on people or doing the rest of the day job.

One such piece of news that struck us as highly relevant for our scoliosis-oriented audience is that of the FDA clearance of what might prove to be a breakthrough in treatment of spinal deformities. French company, Medicrea, well known for developing devices for this kind of surgery, has seen the first U.S. implantation of its customized spinal rod. The key word here is “customized”, because until now the surgeon would use X-Ray and scan information to estimate the required configuration (all deformities being different), and then use a device called a French Bender to impart the desired shape to a rod. Aside from the high potential for inaccuracy, these bendable rods have notches in them to allow them to bend. It’s not unheard of that, especially in the more acutely curved rods, the load is too much for the notches, eventually resulting in fracturing at these points.

If that’s not enough on its own to justify a different approach, consider the operative time taken tweaking these things to fit. Also, with the best will in the world they can’t be perfect.

Contrast all that with a software-driven approach that can take scan information, uploaded to Medicrea, and within five days deliver a rod that is effectively customized to the specific requirement and anatomy of the patient.

Furthermore the free application provided in the supplied software, gives spine surgeons access to the most recent scientific data available on the parameters necessary to determine and restore perfect sagittal alignment for each patient.

Medicrea’s device is called UNiD and you can read more about it here.