Dublin-based medical company Medtronic recently announced the launch of its new titanium 3D printing platform, known as TiONIC Technology. This system will enable more complex designs and integrated surface technologies for spine surgery implants. This is the latest addition to the field of 3D printing-enabled orthopedics systems, which is now growing at a remarkable rate.
3D printing technology is rapidly transforming the way that medical devices are created, and the field of orthopedics is definitely one of the biggest beneficiaries of these developments. A broad range of medically-certified systems now exist that enable the production of advanced spinal implants. These cages and interbody fusion devices can be fabricated with a high level of design freedom that can allows the creation of complex shapes with improved mechanical and material properties.
TiONIC Technology is a 3D printing technique that creates enhanced surface textures by making use of a differentiated laser method. Compared with smooth surface materials, enhanced surface texture has been shown to increase osteoconductivity as well as promoting bone response. And unlike with traditional manufacturing techniques, the 3D printing process allows for more intricate implant designs.
A good example of this advanced design capability is the honeycomb shape featured on Medtronic's recently launched ARTiC-L Spinal System. The ARTiC-L implant is the first implant to be developed with the new TiONIC technology. It is designed to facilitate sagittal alignment of the spine by offering various lordotic angles up to 20 degrees.
The ARTiC-L implant is made of titanium, and is designed for surgeons to use in transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) spine surgery. The implant’s 3D printed honeycomb design acts as an osteoconductive scaffold for bony growth into the implant, and the structure also provides improved mechanical load distribution across the implant.
"ARTiC-L is an important component of Medtronic's portfolio of reproducible solutions for minimally invasive procedures," said Doug King, senior vice president and president of Medtronic's Spine division, which is part of the Restorative Therapies Group at Medtronic. "Our 3D printed TiONIC Technology allows devices such as ARTiC-L - and our future interbody implant portfolio - to offer surgical advantages not traditionally possible."
Another huge benefit of using this implant is the streamlined workflow, as just one instrument is required for surgeons to insert and correctly position the device. Both patients and surgical professionals are benefitting from the 3D printing approach to orthopedics technology. The technology’s use of a complex digital model and direct fabrication in a high-quality titanium material has reduced the limits on what is possible with this kind of surgery.
"Surface advancements, like TiONIC Technology, have emerged as a paradigm shift in interbody fusion implants," said Dr. Colin C. Buchanan, neurosurgeon at the Colorado Brain and Spine Institute, in Aurora, Colo. "Implants utilizing newer surface technology can help stimulate a cellular response and give me greater confidence that the patient will have a successful fusion."
Other recent orthopedics 3D printing breakthroughs include the work of Michigan-based medical technology company Stryker, which recently got FDA clearance for a new 3D printed interbody fusion cage, based on its proprietary AMagine process.