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Stryker Makes a Play as Disc Replacement Gets Ready to Boom

Executive Summary

Stryker's recent acquisition of SpineCore represents just the latest move of a large orthopedics company into the promising field of disc replacement, a technology expected to boom over the next four years.

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The Buzz at JP Morgan--Devices: No Longer the Conference Stepchild

Over the past five years, big cap device companies have been some of the strongest performers among all life science stocks, and this year's conference represented something of a renaissance of device companies. However, most interesting wasn't so much the revival of interest in device stocks itself, but the message that device companies sent and that investors are embracing: "Forget about the hype; slow and steady wins the race."

Spine-Bending Market

Today, the market for spine surgery is growing by more than 20% annually based on fusion technologies alone, despite the fact that those technologies are decades old and flawed. However, a heightened awareness of the clinical drawbacks of fusion is fueling prolific company creation in a new spine motion preservation segment of the industry. Some 118 start-ups in spine are dotting the landscape. Many hope to offer new devices that address spinal joint reconstruction; artificial discs, disc nuclei, annulus repair, facet joint replacement, and dynamic or flexible stabilization of the spine.

Spine-Bending Market

Today, the market for spine surgery is growing by more than 20% annually based on fusion technologies alone, despite the fact that those technologies are decades old and flawed. However, a heightened awareness of the clinical drawbacks of fusion is fueling prolific company creation in a new spine motion preservation segment of the industry. Some 118 start-ups in spine are dotting the landscape. Many hope to offer new devices that address spinal joint reconstruction; artificial discs, disc nuclei, annulus repair, facet joint replacement, and dynamic or flexible stabilization of the spine.

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