expandable fusion cage

Expandable Fusion Cage

Johns Hopkins University, 2007 - $17,000

Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure in which two or more vertebrae are fused together to relieve pain stemming from degenerative disc disease, spinal fractures, and other sources of back pain. The preferred surgical method is Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF), where the disc is removed through an incision over the lumbar spine and a structural titanium cage and bone graft are inserted in its place. While this approach is less invasive than others and leads to lower trauma and complication rates, the small space in which to work and the vulnerability of local nerves make the surgery time-consuming and difficult to perform. Further, traditional cages have fixed dimensions and must be coaxed into the spine, possibly causing nerve damage.

This E-Team is developing a new approach to the procedure with an expandable fusion cage. The flexible titanium cage will be compressed during insertion and expanded during the positioning phase of the procedure. When the device is fit into the spine, a balloon will be inflated, expanding the cage to the exact size necessary and filling in all available space.

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