4 Key Reasons Why Motion Preservation Devices are Taking Over Spinal Fusions

Authors: Artur Kim, Jacqueline Ding

Imagine you had severe back pain, and you were told the best option was to literally stop your vertebrae from moving; would you do it? This was often what patients were told not too long ago. However, since the approval of technology that promises a solution without loss of motion, the future of these patients looks much brighter, and a shift has begun. However, this isn’t just a shift in patient preference; this trend to motion preservation devices is a result of 4 key factors.


What is a spinal fusion?

Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure designed to combine two or more vertebrae together, eventually forming a fused bone. This technique is used to immobilize the vertebrae in order to eliminate, or significantly reduce, the pain caused by abnormal movement of the vertebrae through immobilization. Supplemental bone tissue, either autograft or allograft, is used in promoting bone tissue growth.

What is motion preservation?

Motion preservation is used to treat pathologies similar to those addressed by spinal fusions.  However, unlike spinal fusion, motion preservation devices act to preserve the natural motion of the spine. Some motion preservation devices are used for treating pathologies that were previously untreatable with traditional fusion procedures, thus creating new markets for spinal implants. Motion preservation devices may be divided into the following categories: artificial discs and dynamic stabilization devices.

4 Reasons Why Motion Preservation is Taking Over From Spinal Fusions

1: Preserving Spinal Motion

The function which gives motion preservation devices their name is precisely its advantage over traditional spinal fusion techniques. While a fusion procedure limits motion almost entirely, artificial discs aim to restore or maintain the natural motion of the human spine. Studies have shown that when given the choice between a fusion and a motion preserving device, putting cost aside, patients prefer motion preserving devices. The number of spinal fusions performed is expected to fall as a direct result of increased patient preference for motion preservation.

2: Reduced Need for Revision Surgery

The main criticism of spinal fusion is that there is substantial evidence that revision surgery is often needed. Studies have shown that after a level is fused, the likelihood of adjacent levels developing degenerative disc disease (DDD) increases substantially. Motion preservation procedures do not carry this concern.

Also, not every patient suffering from degenerative disc disease requires a fusion. Motion preservation devices, such as annular repair or nucleus replacement, can delay or prevent spinal fusions from becoming necessary.

3: Quicker Recovery Time

The invasive nature and longer recovery time of spinal fusion procedures is a major deterrent for patients, particular those belonging to the older generation. In 2017, the fastest-growing age demographic in the U.S. was 65 and older. Many of these patients choose to forego spinal fusion and focus instead on pain management, or options like motion preservation that offer quicker recovery rates.

Quicker recovery is also an incentive for the healthcare system, as it reduces the burden placed on the hospitals, facilities and staff involved in the procedure. This overall reduction of strain means that everyone involved is pushing for this transition.

4: Technological Innovation

Spinal implant companies are constantly looking for new ways to innovate, push the envelope and provide a better solution for patients. Motion preservation devices, by nature, allow patients a better outcome, and many companies are investing heavily in new technology to make this happen. In addition, every company hopes to increase their market share and revenue, and becoming an innovative leader improves their ability to make that happen. Spinal fusions don’t offer the same opportunity for innovation as motion preservation and, thus, a cycle of companies battling for awareness, market share, and improved outcomes has been created.

The latest market intelligence by iData Research shows that the U.S. market for motion preservation devices is expected to experience moderate growth at a compound annual rate of 4.8%. Within this market, the leading companies, Medtronic and DePuy Synthes, have been able to provide significant leadership in this transition. In 2007, Medtronic’s Prestige® was the first artificial disc approved by the FDA for use in the cervical spine. By 2009, a total of 110 million U.S. patients had access to Prestige® through their insurance providers. DePuy Synthes was also a notable competitor in both the cervical artificial disc (CAD) and lumbar artificial disc (LAD) markets, but divested its motion preservation device portfolio to Centinel Spine in December 2017.

As more people become aware of the possibility of a minimally invasive surgery that allows them improved results with reduced recovery, the number of people willing to receive surgical treatment will increase dramatically. As demand increases, reimbursement changes and training for surgeons will be key to keeping the transition going.


About the Authors

Artur Kim is a Research Analyst Team Leader at iData Research. He was a lead researcher for the market study on spinal implants and minimally invasive surgery referenced in this article. Artur has led many research studies, including custom consulting projects for orthopedics markets, cardiovascular markets and others

Jacqueline Ding is a Marketing Assistant at iData Research. She coordinates digital content production across all medical therapeutic areas in partnership with iData’s team of analysts.

iData Research is an international consulting and market research firm focused on providing market intelligence for the medical device, dental and pharmaceutical industries. iData covers research in: spinal implants, minimally invasive spinal surgery (MIS), cardiovascular, orthopedics, dental, diagnostics, pharmaceutical markets and much more.



US Market Report Suite for Spinal Implants and Vertebral Compression Fracture Devices 2017 – MedSuite, iData Research

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