'Sponge-Like' Titanium Foam Spinal Implant Strengthens Local Bone In-Growth

This new 'sponge-like' titanium foam spinal implant promotes capillary action and bone in-growth.
Brad Bergan
The implant itself is on the left, with bone in-growth shown on the right.Xenco Medical

A surgical implant maker announced the first injection-molded titanium foam spinal implant of its kind, according to an embargoed release shared with Interesting Engineering.

Optimized for bone in-growth and featuring a high strength-to-weight ratio, this invention represents a serious advance in medical science.


Xenco Medical Scientist Holds Implant
The implant itself is roughly the size of a thumb. Source: Xenco Medical

'Sponge-like' spinal implant absorbs surrounding material

The titanium implant — called "CancelleX porous titanium lumbar interbodies" — comes pre-attached to disposable, composite polymer instruments. Taking inspiration from cancellous bone and manufactured by Xenco Medical, the CancelleX lumbar interbodies feature interconnected porosity in every implant — which gives them the ability to "absorb" surrounding material like a sponge.

Xenco Medical Sponge Absorption
The CancelleX lumbar interbodies implant has a 'sponge-like' ability to produce capillary action. Source: Xenco Medical

Titanium foam fosters bone 'in-growth'

The implant is designed to promote bone apposition (overgrowth and biological integration) and facilitate vascularization. It's made of titanium, so naturally it has high compressive strength — with a remarkable strength-to-weight ratio, high biocompatibility, and even has the ability to produce capillary action through its structure.

Unlike typical traditional instruments that are reused in hundreds of patients (until they break), Xenco Medical's instruments come pre-optimized for calibration and are sterile-packaged to foster patient-specific use.

"Optimized for energy absorption and bone in-growth, the interconnected network of pores that permeate each CancelleX porous titanium implant serve to achieve bone-like mechanical properties," said Jason Haider, founder and CEO of Xenco Medical, in the embargoed press release shared with Interesting Engineering.

Disposable insertion tool promotes sanitary surgery

The new device and its accompanying insertion tool from Xenco Medical are designed to increase efficiency in operating rooms and remove a significant measure of internal logistics that come with the typical autoclave process.

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Resting in the intersection of biomechanical engineering and materials science, this single-use system is the first polymer-based device of its kind. The company hopes to streamline the surgical supply chain with single-use instruments of little physical weight and easily transportable.

Worries about straggling medical advances in the U.S. amid the coronavirus crisis is not without merit. But new inventions like the CancelleX porous titanium implant show that there is still much scientific progress to be made in medical fields, despite the ongoing roar of the global outbreak.

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