Brigham Young engineers create next-gen spinal disc implant

BYU professors Anton Bowden and Larry Howell examine a new artificial spinal disc prototype--courtesy of BYU

Engineers at Brigham Young University have developed a new artificial spinal disc that duplicates the spine's natural motion. The product has drawn enough interest that Utah-based startup Crocker Spinal Technologies licensed the replacement disc and will develop it for the commercial market. The developers say their device includes a "compliant mechanism"--a jointless, elastic structure designed to create movement through its flexibility. They've tested the device so far on machines and in cadaveric spines, determining the implant behaves very much like a healthy human disc. If they're successful, the product would help treat a problem--disc herniation or degeneration--that costs the U.S. economy $100 billion annually, the researchers note. They join others also seeking to develop next-generation spinal implant products. Story