There’s a reason the expression “to be the backbone of” exists. The backbone is without question the most fundamental structural support of the human body, allowing us to stand and bend. It also houses the all-important spinal cord, which connects all parts of our body directly to the brain. Unfortunately, a number of injuries, infections and conditions directly affect the backbone and spine, limiting movement or at times even the very functioning of our bodies. K2M, a global medical device company focused on developing complex and minimally invasive spine solutions for patients suffering from the most complicated spinal pathologies, today unveiled its latest proprietary invention, Lamellar Titanium Technology, which uses advanced 3D printing techniques to create spinal implants out of a porous and rough biomaterial that actually promotes bone growth activity.
Lamellar structures—the microscopic structure of our bones, among other things are composed of fine, alternating layers of material held adjacent to one another, in a form known as a lamella. K2M’s 3D Lamellar Titanium Technology uses advanced 3D printing technology to mimic lamellar structures and ‘grow’ spinal implants with titanium powder and a high-energy laser beam. This proprietary technique uses titanium with a surface roughness of 3-5 microns that, unlike smooth titanium or other biomaterials such as PEEK, has been associated in pre-clinical data with bone growth (osteoblastic) activity. The technology also incorporates 500 micron diameter pores that run through the walls of the implant, forming channels for bony integration. This means that the patient’s own bone could grow within and throughout the bioprinted implant.
K2M, whose goal is to become the preeminent Complex and Minimally Invasive Spine Company in the world, will be integrating their Lamellar Titanium Technology into the CASCADIA AN and TL Interbody Systems, spinal implant lines offered in a range of sizes uniquely designed to accommodate the vertebral anatomy. The inherent porosity of the Lamellar Titanium Technology also allows for higher-quality radiographic imaging with the CASCADIA line.
With 3D printed Lamellar Titanium Technology, an innovative alternative to many traditionally manufactured PEEK and titanium designs now exists in the interbody space," said Tom Morrison, MD, a neurosurgeon at Polaris Spine & Neurosurgery Center in Atlanta, Georgia. "I'm excited about the CASCADIA platform because it provides a balance of roughness and porosity that may allow the bone to grow into the implant.
The announcement was made today at the 2015 North American Spine Society (NASS) Annual meeting in Chicago and offers an unprecedented application for 3D printing in spinal implants and the treatment of complex spinal pathologies.