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NEJM Studies Continue to Haunt Vertebroplasty Companies

Executive Summary

Now, vertebroplasty advocates look to be losing on a very significant front. A growing number of third-party payors - including at least one Medicare contractor - are reconsidering their coverage of procedures for vertebral compression fractures.

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Vertebral Compression Fracture Treatments Under Pressure

A decade ago, the treatment of vertebral compression fractures (VCF) represented one of the fastest - and most innovative - segments of a spine industry that was set to explode. The two principal procedures - vertebroplasty and its distant cousin kyphoplasty - presented surgeons and interventionalists with a minimally invasive option to stop pain and, in the case of kyphoplasty, restore the shape and form to a broken vertebra. Now, two studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggesting that vertebroplasty procedures were no more effective in relieving pain than a placebo treatment have put pressure on VCF companies and doctors, who are facing pushback on reimbursement and some skepticism from even their own specialists.

Vertebral Compression Fracture Treatments Under Pressure

A decade ago, the treatment of vertebral compression fractures (VCF) represented one of the fastest - and most innovative - segments of a spine industry that was set to explode. The two principal procedures - vertebroplasty and its distant cousin kyphoplasty - presented surgeons and interventionalists with a minimally invasive option to stop pain and, in the case of kyphoplasty, restore the shape and form to a broken vertebra. Now, two studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggesting that vertebroplasty procedures were no more effective in relieving pain than a placebo treatment have put pressure on VCF companies and doctors, who are facing pushback on reimbursement and some skepticism from even their own specialists.

NuVasive: Outpacing a Slowing Spine Market

For the past several years, NuVasive has been growing faster than its rivals in spine, thanks to its innovative XLIF procedure, a lateral approach to minimally-invasive spine surgery. But now the spine market overall has hit a wall. In a market no longer growing, can NuVasive continue to grow?

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