On February 18th, 2011 the Big Z reported that it had introduced the spine industry's "FIRST" porous metal cervical device. One must be amused at the hoopla and gyrations that some of these companies go through for a little bit of publicity, especially when it's really much ado about nothing.
As one of our blogger's stated in an e-mail to TSB, "SO WHAT?" In all likelihood many industry analysts may be mesmerized by the magical properties of trabecular metal that will make them believe that the Big Z is on to something big. TM-S is the first cervical product that incorporates porous metal technology. But the question must be asked, "have we had any difficulties in fusing the cervical spine with the current state of the art?" Hedrocel as industry veterans know it, has been around for many years. If TSB's memory serves us correctly, in 2000 Zimmer originally licensed this material from a small company in Allendale, New Jersey known as Implex which was owned and operated by Alex Khowaylo. In 2003 Zimmer acquired this material from Implex for common stock and a customary cash escrow with the intent of using this material in its hip and knee products. Hedrocel is a biomaterial that approximates the appearance and porosity of cancellous bone forming a strong bond eliminating the potential for particulate wear debris, hence, Zimmer's original interest in this material. In retrospect Alex probably laughed all the way to the bank, cashing out and getting rid of Robert Cohen (I believe that was his name), one totally wild and crazy guy. But what is even funnier about this press release is that Zimmer's new President, Steve Healey is quoted as saying, "With the introduction of the TM-S System, Zimmer is bringing the potential benefits of porous metal technology to cervical interbody fusion." In addition, "The osteoconductive properties of Trabecular Metal support initial fixation and can potentially aid in cervical fusion." Let's be realistic, if trabecular metal can potentially aid in cervical fusion, how much better can it really get? Can we take it from 94% success rate to 100%? What happens if the patient has other associated medical conditions? What happens if the patient is a substance abuser, or smoker? What is the comparative modulus of elasticity of trabecular metal to PEEK? Making blanket statements in press releases leaves much to the imagination, let alone the credibility of the person making the statements. So TSB wants to know, is Zimmer blowing smoke at us, or do they really believe their own press clippings, you be the judge.