A Medical Device Daily

Two orthopedic companies — minSURG (Clearwater, Florida) and Bauerfeind (Zeulenroda, Germany) — yesterday reported their official partnership.

In early 2005, minSURG introduced TruFUSE, which the company describes as a unique, simpler approach to minimally invasive spine surgery. The procedure requires post-surgical back support, to be worn for at least six weeks to ensure fixation, the company said.

“The TruFUSE technique often produces minimal post-operative discomfort,” said James Doulgeris, minSURG CEO. “Using back support to limit movement until the surgery has healed is strongly recommended. Bauerfeind is one of the premier manufacturers of high quality back support in the world, and has worked with us to create a specially designed brace. This is a natural and mutually beneficial partnership and we are honored to be associated with such a fine and respected company.”

TruFUSE has been used on selected patients since January 2005 and went into limited distribution in August 2006, according to minSURG. The company said it has shipped more than 1,500 units. Each unit fuses one vertebra.

“Our rich history of providing the best orthopedic products to help patients rapidly return to a healthy, active lifestyle helps us understand and support the technologically advanced thinking behind TruFUSE,” said Gregg Power, CEO of Bauerfeind USA (Kennesaw, Georgia). “This opportunity is so important, because improving patient care is ultimately why we’re in business.”

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (Rosemont, Illinois), the most commonly performed operation for back pain has been spinal fusion. About 2 million fusion procedures have been performed since 1990, and according to National Institutes of Health statistics, about a million lumbar fusions were performed in 2005 in the U.S. alone.

In other agreement news, Research Corporation Technologies (RCT; Tucson, Arizona) has granted Royal Philips Electronics (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) and its affiliates, including the ultrasound business of Philips Medical Systems (Best, the Netherlands), a nonexclusive license to pioneering patents owned by RCT that broadly cover ultrasound tissue harmonic imaging (THI).

RCT manages the THI technology for its partner, the University of Rochester (Rochester, New York). Seminal work in the early 1990s by Ted Christopher, PhD, at the university’s Center for Biomedical Ultrasound resulted in a new mode of ultrasound imaging that has become an essential part of diagnostic ultrasound today, according to RCT. Christopher’s invention showed that the second and higher-order harmonic response of native tissue to a propagated ultrasound beam could be employed to produce a sharper, better-contrast image than that of the fundamental emitted frequency, the company said.

Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands employs roughly 124,300 employees in more than 60 countries worldwide.

Philips joins Acuson , a Siemens (Munich, Germany) company, as a licensee of the tissue harmonic imaging technology. RCT continues its efforts to license the technology broadly to the ultrasound industry.

RCT is a technology investment and management company that provides early-stage funding and development for promising biomedical companies and technologies from universities and research institutions worldwide.