Ortho Kinematics bags $18M+ for spine instability diagnostic

The VMA test is more accurate than the standard-of-care flexion-extension X-rays, as it guides the patient through spinal bending, preventing him or her from "guarding" movements. Image: Michael Dorausch CC BY-SA 2.0

Ortho Kinematics raised $18.6 million in a Series D round, which will boost the commercialization of its spinal instability test.

The standard spinal instability test, known as the flexion/extension X-ray test, involves manually measuring spine motion from static X-rays. Ortho Kinematics’ Vertebral Motion Analysis (VMA) tech uses computer-assisted video fluoroscopy to produce images of the spine as the patient moves through bending.

It also helps the patient through a spine bend to eliminate the “guarding” that can occur during a traditional bending X-ray. In a traditional test, patients are free to bend as much or little as they want, so instability may go undetected, the company said.

VMA test results are uploaded to the cloud, where they are processed to produce motion measurements to evaluate instability. Physicians may view the results and images within hours on a computer, tablet or smartphone, the company said.

"This current round of financing is a strong vote of confidence that will provide [Ortho Kinematics] the ability to begin meeting the VMA demand seen from patients and caregivers. In the area of spine diagnostics, functional diagnostic testing is long overdue,” said CEO Paul Gunnoe, in the statement.

The funding will also drive further development of the VMA technology, the company said in a statement.

Medtronic backed the company in its Series C round last summer. And the previous year, the device giant teamed up with Ortho Kinematics to market the VMA system to spinal surgeons. Ortho estimated about 5 million flexion/extension tests will be ordered in the U.S. each year and hopes to make the VMA test, which produces a more sensitive and specific measure of spinal instability, the standard of care.