More so than in past years, the 2021 winning technologies point to a new direction in spine innovation. This year’s winners are artificial intelligence, machine learning, additive manufacturing, and notably innovative designs. These winning technologies ultimately deliver better, faster, and, yes, cheaper solutions to spine surgeons. Improvements and advancements in patient outcomes with spine surgery have been created by many factors, including the potential provided by innovations and new technologies. Read on to know more.
3D Printed Implants
3D printing is a technology that has been implemented in neurosurgery. Neurosurgeons have harnessed custom 3D printed implants and 3D printed models of spine cases for preoperative planning. However, an increasing interest in spine surgery is 3D printed implants. The advantages of 3D printed implants are multiple. First, these implants can be shaped and molded to custom fit the patient. 3D printed implants also can have randomization of porosity and pore size, which may also enhance integration and scaffolding.
Latest implants utilizing nanotechnology blend the advantages of PEEK, its modulus of elasticity similar to bone, and its enhanced potential to assess for fusion formation radiographically, and titanium, enabling improved implant-endplate contact. This is performed with implants having interconnected porous titanium scaffolds molded around a PEEK core. Nano-roughness improves signaling pathways to better bone growth and decrease implantrelated complications.
Automation and Connectivity
These technologies will disrupt spine surgery, not in the placement of hardware but also more innovative iterations. Artificial intelligence will use machine learning and predictive analytics to ai in performing procedures such as laminectomies, diskectomies, rod formation, and interbody fusions through significantly smaller incisions. A surgeon may visualize the robot’s progress either through virtual or augmented reality, a technology leveraged in spine education, or via a small endoscope attached to the robot arm.
Endoscopic Spine Surgery
Surgeons have used endoscopy in spine surgery for over a few decades. However, with recent enhancement in surgical instruments and imaging, this field will widen drastically by 2020. With the potential to perform operations through a pencil-sized incision and respecting muscle plains, these procedures have the potential advantages of decreased postoperative infections, hospitalization times, time out of work, and a chance of developing instability needing future fusion.