With the collaboration of Cocept Laser, Tsunami Medical can offer laser-melted spine cages that enhance the performances of conventional titanium or PEEK components. Tsunami is a system developer for spinal implants by Tsunami Medical Srl based in Modena, Italy. Thus it offers implants that restore the functionality of a damaged spine as well as tools or instruments that allow surgeons to conduct a successful operation. The aim is to strengthen the spine and thus ensure the mobility of the patient.
Spine cages are implants for levelling and relieving the pressure on the spine. These implants are minimally invasive normally used in conjunction with screws made of Titanium in patients with problems caused spinal instability stenosis or many others spinal degenerative dieses. The cages themselves are made of PEEK (polyetheretherketone), a highly biocompatible material, even for allergy sufferers. In the past, these cages were manufactured conventionally in titanium, with the result being that, in some cases, the titanium component had a negative impact on the bone structure due to the rigidity of the cage realized by drilling with a very hard structure. This was caused by the implant’s significantly lower elasticity versus the bone. One alternative is PEEK, a high-performance plastic with compression properties or elasticity (E-module) rivalling that of bone. In addition, PEEK components cause no artefacts in MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and are thus easy to locate by the surgeon through imaging. One of the disadvantages of PEEK spine cages is their inability to be integrated into the bone structure and their eventual should slip off from the original position also after longer periods of implant. Polyetheretherketone is a high temperature resistant thermoplastic and belongs to the group of polyaryletherketones. Its melting temperature is 335°C.
The LaserCUSING additive laser melting method, developed by Concept Laser, combines the strengths – and eliminates the weaknesses – of traditional titanium or PEEK components for spine cage applications. A laser-melted component can now offer the biocompatibility of titanium with the desired elasticity of a plastic material in a single product. Laser-melted spine cages have a very complicate geometry and not require to be re-treated to ensure an optimal surface structure. The highlight of this solution: its geometry, with partially different density distributions (embedded web-like structures), now gives titanium parts the same elasticity as a PEEK solution. Laser-melted cages can also be affordably manufactured in various dimensions depending on the anatomy of the patient, allowing for customized manufacturing. According to CEO Stefano Caselli, laser-melted cages represent “a true innovation that combines material-specific advantages such as biocompatibility, i.e., the ability to embed the material into the bone structure, and elasticity that is customized for the human body in a single product”. Surgeons can easily locate the cages using CT or MRI imaging. Laser melting also allows custom or small-series manufacturing, including “made-to-order” cages for patients with special anatomical conditions or standard solutions for other patients. A clinical study conducted in March 2014 in cooperation with Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg, Germany, confirmed an excellent healing prognosis with these implants.