Medtronic in 2021: 10 key developments

Spinal Tech

From a new leader of its spine division to the expansion of its minimally invasive portfolio and the development of an innovation campus in the U.S., here are 10 key updates from Medtronic this year:

1. On Jan. 4, Harry "Skip" Kiil will become president of Medtronic's cranial and spinal technologies operating unit. For the last three years, Mr. Kiil has been president of global orthopedics at Smith+Nephew, where he was responsible for the company's reconstructive arthroplasty, robotics, trauma and extremities businesses. He also held several leadership roles at Stryker, where he worked for 12 years.

2. Medtronic's cranial and spine technologies division saw a slight revenue decrease in the second quarter of the 2022 fiscal year, and the company earned $7.8 billion in total revenue.

"Our second quarter results reflect focused execution of our strategy and the strong underlying health of the business, despite the market impact of the pandemic resurgence and healthcare system staffing challenges on medical procedure volumes, particularly in the U.S., which affected our quarterly revenue growth," CEO Geoff Martha said.

3. In October, Medtronic announced that it will no longer distribute Aziyo Biologics' cellular bone matrix products. The move came after Aziyo's FiberCel product was recalled after several patients who received it tested positive for tuberculosis. Multiple lawsuits were filed on behalf of patients who allegedly were sickened or died from a tainted product.

4. Medtronic's Mazor X robotic guidance system launched in Canada in October. Medtronic acquired Mazor Robotics for $1.7 billion in 2018, as part of its plan to integrate its spinal implants, navigation and 3D imaging technology with Mazor X, which launched in the U.S. in 2019.

5. Medtronic announced three additions to its minimally invasive spine surgery portfolio in September. The Catalyft PL and PL40 are part of the Catalyft expandable interbody system, and the Space-D access system enables pedicle screw-based distraction, retraction and compression.

6. In September, Medtronic enrolled its first patient in a clinical trial for its Braive growth modulation system for scoliosis. Braive is Medtronic's latest pediatric spine device and uses a braid secured to the spine to slow the growth of the curved side of the spine. The study includes patients in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

7. The company broke ground on a 400,000-square-foot innovation campus in Lafayette, Colo., in June. The company aims to move about 1,100 research and development and administrative employees from its Boulder and Louisville, Colo., facilities into the new location by the end of 2022.

8. Medtronic is doubling down on data, artificial intelligence and machine learning, labeled "the new frontier for medtech," by Mr. Martha. Medtronic is focused on collecting datasets and developing algorithms. "We are doing this in spine with our recent acquisition of Medicrea and its use of data and AI in preoperative planning to create personalized spine implants," he said.

9. The National Institutes of Health awarded Medtronic and the University of Louisville (Ky.) a $7.8 million grant to study epidural stimulation for the treatment of spinal cord injury in March. Medtronic is working with scientists from the university to develop software applications for spinal cord injury that integrate with its Intellis spinal cord stimulator system. The project will focus on developing technology to improve control of locomotor and bladder function.

10. Medtronic's patient-specific UNiD Rods were cleared for use with several spine systems that include rod, hooks, screws and interbody fusion devices. The UNiD rods are pre-bent before surgery to match a preoperative plan created with artificial intelligence technology, which is designed to precisely align patients' spines and reduce the risk of malalignment and associated revision surgeries.

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