'Bone loves titanium': Dr. Kade Huntsman on surface technology and the future of spine surgery

Surface Technology

Salt Lake City-based orthopedic surgeon Kade Huntsman, MD, leads the Salt Lake Orthopaedic Clinic at St. Marks Hospital. He performs robot-assisted spine surgery and uses cutting-edge technologies in his procedures.

Here are his thoughts on implant selection and patient care, nanotechnology, the potential of 3-D printing and the future of spine surgery.


Q: How do you see implant selection, particularly the surface technology of the implant, impacting patient care?


Dr. Kade Huntsman: I think implant selection is extremely important in impacting patient care. While PEEK still has the most usage, I think titanium is making huge strides. Bone loves titanium and hates PEEK. In a PEEK product, the body actually walls off the PEEK, surrounding it with fibrous tissue. Titanium is much better, and bone grows and binds directly to the titanium. I prefer titanium because it helps me to achieve fusion, rather than inhibiting it with fibrous tissue as PEEK does. This leads to more rapid fusion and earlier stability so patients feel better earlier on in the recovery process. The surface of the titanium is extremely important because it allows the osteoblasts and titanium to interact, and with the nanotechnology that surface can actually cause bone cells to produce bone.


Q: Where do you see the biggest opportunities for continued growth and development in implant materials and nanotechnology for spine surgery?


KH: I think the nanotechnology subtractive surface technology should apply to anywhere in the body that bone and titanium interact. Dental procedures such as implant posts for crowns, orthopedic procedures such as total joint arthroplasty and trauma and spinal fusion procedures would certainly benefit.


It will be interesting to see how 3-D titanium printing technology evolves, and how nanosurface technology can be employed to make these printed implants better. 3-D printing can allow the implant to overcome many of the drawbacks seen in titanium, such as using less titanium so imaging is better and manipulating the rigidity of the implant to avoid subsidence. 3-D printing cannot print at the nano-level, so employing subtractive surface technology to a 3-D printed implant could be very exciting.


More articles on surface technology:

8 trends for 3D printing in spine

5 things to know about Titan Spine's Nano Surface Technology

SeaSpine Holdings expands Ventura NanoMetalene implant: 4 things you need to know

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