The Spine Market: Big, Growing and Persistently Device-Intensive

[Having covered a very wide range of medical technology markets, spanning cardiology to gastroenterology, biotechs to devices and disposables/reusables/"reposables" to capital equipment, I have to note that the spine surgery market is really unique among all of them — resistant to cost containment, persistently device-oriented, and subject to tremendous innovation all the same. In some ways, spine surgery may be the last bastion of medical device development, clinging as it does to its inherent need for products that are structural in nature and therefore keeping at bay the wholesale intrusion of biotechs and pharmaceuticals. – P. Driscoll]

The global spine market is large, active and growing rapidly in revenues. Several dynamic forces, in addition to the aging of the population, are expected to affect the market and treatments during the next several years. While spinal fusion will always have a place, its share of the treatment market is expected to decline. Newer treatments such as total disc replacement and nuclear arthroplasty will erode the spinal fusion market, as these and other treatments which preserve spinal motion gain favor over the invasive and traumatic fusion of two or more spine segments.  

The total global spine surgery market includes includes devices for spinal fusion, bone graft substitutes, total disc replacement, nuclear arthroplasty (also known as nucleus replacement) vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty, interspinous process spacers and devices for image guided surgery.  The combined market will have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 14% through 2017. 

As has been the historical precedent, many devices are first launched outside of the US, primarily in the European Union, where the product approval process is less strenuous than in the US. Therefore, a number of new products, such as nucleus replacement, have sales outside of the US but no sales here, or very modest US sales due to use as an investigational or humanitarian device.

Worldwide, spinal fusion is expected to always be a tool for the orthopedic surgeon, but as a procedure it is starting to yield market share to other, more motion-preserving devices and procedures. In addition, motion-preserving technologies are filling the treatment gap between lumbar back pain treated with non-surgical means, and multi-segment spinal fusion. Motion-preserving devices also leave the option of fusion open as more of a last resort treatment, if needed. As technology advances, populations age and surgeons gain experience with new treatments, these trends are expected to continue.

In dollar terms, spine fusion revenues are expected to be flat as bone graft substitutes, total disc replacement and vertebroplasty/kyphoplasty begin to replace some spinal fusion procedures. Nucleus replacement, a market in its infancy, will also be increasing during the period covered in this study, but will remain a relatively modest sub-segment of the entire market.

Global Spine Surgery Market by Percentage and Segments, 2008-2017

Source: Report #M510, "Spine Surgery: Products, Technologies, Markets & Opportunities, Worldwide, 2008-2017."

The exhibit above shows the percent shares (by USD) of the product segments. This graph shows more dramatically the predicted shift from spinal fusion towards other technologies. One of the drivers of this trend is the desire by Baby Boomers to remain active into their later years. This means that they will be more likely to opt for a total disc replacement, for example, in order to keep spinal fusion as a more drastic, final solution if all else fails.

Another factor behind the growth of the global spine market is the increasing prevalence of obesity, especially in developed countries. Obesity puts added strains on the vertebrae and increases the rate of normal wear. While the rate of obesity seems now to be slowing in some countries, it is expected to remain a significant factor through at least 2017.
Innovation as a factor refers both to the plethora of new designs and devices being patented and produced, and the new materials under development which go into some of those devices. Critics suggest that some of these devices are a technology looking for a market. Years are usually required to conduct the testing and to obtain market approval through the FDA or other regulatory approvals such as the CE mark in the EU, or approval by the Japanese medical device authorities. Further years of surgeon experience using the new devices with patients will determine which devices are winners in the race, and which fall out of usage. Nevertheless, there are a number of start-up companies in the US and outside of the US which are working to develop devices in hopes of meeting a significant need and reaping the rewards. Patients are frequently the beneficiaries of this research and development, and hence innovation is a powerful driver of the global market.
Baby boomers, in addition to requesting spinal treatments which will allow them to return to their normal, active lifestyle, are also increasingly requesting minimally invasive or minimal access surgery. MIS device revenues are expected to increase due to this growing demand.





2 thoughts on “The Spine Market: Big, Growing and Persistently Device-Intensive”

  1. I have been suffering from degenative disc which causes me pain everyday. I would like some way to cure it without surgery. Nowadays we hear more and more info every day about the use of stem cells. One such I read in “The Washington Times” Stem Cells Can Aid Spinal Disc Repair. I would like to know more about the process and also when this procedure is going to be available for us?

  2. The use of stem cells for any kind of treatment is, with very few exceptions, at least five years away. The particular study you note, cited <…> in the Washington Times, was from an animal study performed by Cytori Therapeutics <> . Since this is not FDA approved, and since there is no established procedure, I do not believe Cytori would be able to provide you with such info, even if the FDA allowed them to communicate this. Honestly, your best opportunity for finding information on this is your own efforts. Unfortunately, stem cell therapy gets a great deal of press, but still remains only a potential therapy.

    I wish you well in your research and with your disc pain.

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