University of Virginia
People's Choice Winner
First Place Winner

In the United States, 2 million children are diagnosed with scoliosis annually. Of those, 38,000 undergo an invasive, complicated procedure known as spinal fusion surgery. The surgery has a minimum recovery time of 12 months, a QALY adjusted cost per surgery of $115,000, and a complication rate of up to 50%. Minimally Invasive Spinal Technology, LLC has developed the thoracolumbar interbody realignment, or ThIRA, system, which comprises an intervertebral disc replacement designed to apply forces which oppose the loading patterns that cause scoliosis. Our patent-pending polymer disc acts first to preserve motion and absorb shock and second, to exert the forces necessary to realign the vertebrae. Through applying an expansive force on the wedged aspects of the curve and a tensile force on the expanded aspects, the device corrects vertebral wedging, thereby straightening the spine. Patient-unique tailoring allows multiple polymer sections to be combined to apply varying forces depending on individual corrective need. When compared to spinal fusion surgery, the ThIRA system enables physicians to reduce long term complications and perform less muscle dissection, the main factor resulting in pain. In other treatments, disc replacements have been shown to be 80% more effective than spinal fusion. Using finite element modelling, the gold standard of preclinical testing in the spinal industry, we’ve shown that the ThIRA system achieves 61% correction, comparable to other procedures. Physicians can thereby achieve similar levels of correction while avoiding the need for invasive spinal fusion in the later years of a patient’s adolescence.

Alexander Singh
Rohit Rustagi
George Vithoulkas
Eric Taleghani