Stryker buys startup to bolster safety in minimally invasive spine surgery

Y-Wire--Courtesy of Stryker

Orthopedics implant and spine player Stryker ($SYK) has acquired Florida-based startup SafeWire in order to add to its minimally invasive spinal surgery products. Stryker has been on an M&A tear of late--this deal follows the closure of three acquisitions earlier this month.

Of SafeWire's four products, Stryker highlighted two as of particular use to its Spine division: the Y-Wire guidewire and Tiger Jamshidi Needle Family. Y-Wire is designed to mitigate potential wire-based complications in minimally invasive spine surgery such as inadvertent advancement of the guidewire through bone, accidental pullout, kinking or wire migration.

Guidewires are standard in minimally invasive spine surgery, with almost all pedicle screw systems from these procedures requiring them to deliver screws and ensure their proper anatomical placement. SafeWire received a CE mark for Y-Wire in October 2014. It's intended to enable fewer surgical steps as well as reduced exposure to fluoroscopy.

Tiger needle--Courtesy of Stryker

As for the Tiger needles, they are used for posterior fixation in minimally invasive spinal surgery. These, in particular, are designed to work with Y-Wire for bi- and tri-cortical fixation. They are intended to mitigate potential issues with impact advancement and back-out during these sorts of procedure. These were launched in the U.S. in September 2014 after an FDA clearance earlier that June.

"This acquisition increases our competitive advantage as we broaden our product line and extend our customer base among teaching facilities, competitive accounts, and existing SafeWire customers," said Brad Paddock, president of Stryker's Spine division, in a statement.

Stryker's Spine business is one of its smaller and poorer performing units. The company just recently returned the business to growth--marking the third quarter of doing so in the fourth quarter.

"This marks our third consecutive quarter of strong growth in U.S. spine," said Stryker chairman, President and CEO Kevin Lobo on the year-end earning call. "Spine also had a new 3D printed interbody device launching in 2016, which we believe will be a very exciting product for the market, helping us to continue this positive trend."

- here is the release