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A recent story in The Minneapolis Tribune questioned the connection between Medtronic and the surgeons that use their products to preform back surgeries. At the heart of the story is payments that surgeons are receiving as consultant fees and questions of why. The docters claim no connection and that they are doing nothing wrong. Hopefully congressional investigations will answer the questions.

Beyond the main story is the underlying information about the Spinal Surgery industry as a whole.

– This is a 7.5 billion dollars Industry.

– 500,000 spinal surgeries are done in the US each year.

– The pedicle screws that are used cost $60 to $100 dollars to make and are discounted to the hospitals at $1,100.

– That the FDA has approved the use of the Medtronic Infuse Bone Graft (which is used to promote bone growth between vertebrae after surgery) at one vertribal level. But, that 80-95% of the Infuse use is off label. Which is beyond one and being usued at multiple levels.

At least three-quarters of the roughly 200 “adverse events” reported to the FDA involve off-label uses of Infuse.

Interesting numbers that make up what could be a very troubling story.

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