It may look like an array of instrumentation from a medieval torture chamber, but these are some of the tools that surgeons use to repair, fuse, immobilise and implant into our backs. This seminar, held at the IMechE headquarters on Birdcage Walk in central London and the third of its kind was intended to bring together surgeons, engineers, scientists and industry to discuss the issues, successes, products, techniques and research related to spinal surgery. While the warm sunshine was out in force outdoors, inside it really was a full on day, jam packed with presentations some as short as 10 minutes long. Highlights included playing with the surgical tools and practicing the implantation of spinal rods (by Zimmer) on a plastic spine and the forward looking keynote from Mr John O’Dowd highlighting the radical change in the human condition that’s been brought about through advances in spinal surgery and intervention (e.g. Harrington rods and Dick’s fixation device). One thing that I found staggering was the size of the medical implant market and the turnover of the big names in the business. For instance, here are the top 4:
1. Stryker $7.3 billion
2. Depuy $5.6 billion
3. Zimmer $4.2 billion
4. Smith and Nephew $4.0 billion.