'There is going to be a fundamental shift from fusion to motion preservation,' says Centinel Spine CEO

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Steve Murray joined privately held spinal tech company Centinel Spine as its CEO on March 16, 2020, just days before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the U.S. 

Though his appointment came at a difficult time for businesses across the country, Mr. Murray did not let that slow him down. 

In the last two years, Centinel Spine has made strides in the spinal motion preservation space, releasing two new cervical discs in the U.S. market, the Prodisc C SK and the Prodisc C Vivo, with a third disc rounding out the series in 2023. All three new products will be compatible with Centinel's flagship product, the Prodisc C. 

"Prodisc C SK by itself is a solution, but the real solution is the portfolio. Three new devices in addition to the Prodisc C original provide a solution together," Steve Sanderson, vice president of marketing and product development at Centinel, told Becker's. "One of the best things about the portfolio is they're all built on the same core technology. It's common across all devices and tried and true and proven across 30 years.

"They all have different end plates that are anatomically shaped to address degenerative disc disease at its varying stages of progression or to match the patient's anatomy. The Prodisc C SK product is one of three on the market in the U.S. that allow the surgeon, for the first time ever in artificial disc replacement, to match the disc to the patient because of the different anatomic end plate design," Mr. Murray told Becker's. "Part of the solution that allows surgeons to pick the best fitting disc for each patient at each level that they would do surgery. In the artificial disc space, we are the only company that offers options to surgeons in making these choices."

Mr. Murray also believes that technologies like the Prodisc C and its sister products are the future of orthopedics, as more spinal surgeons will move away from fusion toward motion preservation. 

"Fundamentally, we believe artificial disc replacement and motion preservation is better for many patients, and we think as patients become more aware and surgeons become more skilled, as the evidence continues to mount, there is going to be a fundamental shift from fusion to motion preservation," he said. "We think innovation and patient access to these technologies is a really important thing to do. We know fusion works, and is never going to go away entirely, but there is a movement to motion preservation and there are clearly published benefits in the literature that speak to the need for subsequent surgical intervention in the spine if you preserve motion in the spine rather than fuse the spine. We think providing better awareness and better access is a way to stay at the forefront, benefit more patients, and it's an important commitment that we make. That includes advocating for reimbursement, working with insurance companies, working with practices to support capabilities, and the direct to patient marketing and medical education." 

Centinel keeps patient and surgeon education at the top of mind for other initiatives as well. 

"We have a relationship with a virtual reality company who's helping us with education tools for better examining the anatomy and understanding the fit of our discs and differing end plates that are designed to accommodate different anatomy. That is part of our core strategy as well, our fundamental strategy to include education for surgeons," Mr. Murray said. "This year we have already trained over 400 surgeons on our technology worldwide through a variety of channels including webinars and one on ones. We've done as good a job as anyone in the industry, particularly with a company our size, with patient education tools to make the clinical situation understandable and accessible so patients who are suffering from neck and lower back pain can understand what options there are out there and find clinicians who are familiar with those technologies." 

And as the healthcare landscape continues to shift in the U.S. from hospitals to outpatient centers, Centinel Spine is ready for the change. 

"Our portfolio is really well positioned for the transition to ASCs. The reimbursement environment is increasingly favoring ASCs versus hospitals. We see that as an important component of access and surgeon awareness and uptake," Mr. Murray said. "I am proud of the team that is Centinel Spine, and the talent we have built, retained and developed." 

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