S.A. company marketing surgical wedge made of human bone

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by Wendy Rigby / KENS 5

kens5.com

Posted on November 4, 2009 at 1:03 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 4:52 PM

A San Antonio medical company has come up with a new way to help back pain patients. They’re teaming up with the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center to create a surgical implant made out of human bone.

It’s the ultimate in recycling. People who have died and donated their tissues for medical use can help 50 to 100 patients.
 
“The next of kin is approached for a tissue donation,” explained Donnie Weeks, director tissue services for the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center. “And if the family consents for donation, then we go out and recover the tissue.”
 
Some of the bones being processed for the Blood and Tissue Center are turned into nifty new implants used by spine surgeons. Bone taken from the femur, or thigh, is made into wedges for what’s called a “facet fusion.”
 
Neurosurgeon Gerardo Zavala said the wedges are a minimally invasive way to solve a painful problem. “The idea is to stabilize this bone, this pain generator, by adding a little piece of bone in between these two so as to hold the joint together,” he said.
 
Facet Fusion Technologies is a subsidiary of San Antonio-based Medical Concepts. They have a patent pending on this design, which is made possible by the precision milling machines at the Blood and Tissue Center. After the wedges are formed and processed, they can be used in any patient.
 
“After the first year, we’re looking to do 200 per month and up to 400 per month after the second year,” said Medical Concepts president and CEO Bob Childs.
 
This new tiny tool will allow spine surgeons to make a big difference for people in pain in a minimally invasive way.
 
“It’s putting a lot of people to work in San Antonio and it’s a great new technology,” Childs said.
 
The Osteofacet Wedge is being unveiled and marketed this week. Surgeons will use it on patients throughout the United States.  

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