New hybrid PEEK-titanium spinal implant solution impresses orthopaedic specialists in China

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The Uplifter hybrid expandable cage

An innovative expandable cage called the ‘Uplifter’ garnered acclaim at the 11th Congress of the Chinese Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (CAOS) held in partnership with the North American Spine Society (NASS) in China.

The product, developed by the Beijing-based company specialized in the research, development and production of orthopaedic products, Fule Science & Technology Development Co. Ltd, is the first domestic expandable hybrid cage, whose constituent materials are Invibio’s PEEK-Optima Natural polymer and titanium. Officially known as an ‘expandable anterior lumbar interbody fusion device’, the new implant can be used to treat forms of degenerative disc disease, nerve root-canal stenosis, and lumbar spondylolisthesis.

During a live demonstration on a cadaver at the congress, Dr Patrick C. Hsieh, from the USC Spine Center in Los Angeles, talked about the benefits of the procedure and the use of PEEK in the device, including radiolucency, as this ‘assists in accurate fusion assessment as well as having a track record of excellent long-term clinical results and radiographic fusion rates’.

Dr. Xifeng Zhang, from Beijing 301 Hospital, concurred. “PEEK has been used for interbody fusion devices for many years. Both, the literature and my personal experience indicate that PEEK provides better clinical outcomes compared with titanium-only approaches in spinal fusion. There is a higher fusion rate and lower subsidence”, he wrote in his ‘Review of clinical applications and results associated with Direct-Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion’.

The new cage was developed by Fule in collaboration with Invibio, part of the Victrex plc group of companies, and a leading supplier of biomaterial solutions, including PEEK-Optima polymers to medical device manufacturers. The next step is the development of spinal fusion devices with PEEK-OPTIMA HA Enhanced, Fule reported.

In China, Invibio´s enhanced PEEK is a relatively new thermoplastic biomaterial. In PEEK-OPTIMA HA Enhanced, Hydroxyapatite (HA), a well-known osteoconductive material, is fully integrated into the polymer matrix, and not simply coated on the surface. Early clinical results for cervical and lumbar spinal fusion reveal potential patient benefits and specific improvements for the enhanced biomaterial including solid fusions as early as 6 months, beneficial clinical outcomes at early time points, improvements in overall pain and neurological function. 

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