Dr. Abrahams and his business partner, Michael Bielski, a medical device entrepreneur, have developed a bone dust collector that more easily and cost-effectively collects local autograft generated at the surgical site.
Spinal Fusion Important in Helping Patients Reduce Pain
Spinal fusion is an important procedure Dr. Abrahams uses to reduce debilitating back pain in many of his patients. Spinal fusion is performed on approximately 400,000 patients in the US annually, with that number unfortunately growing every year. The goal of spinal fusion is to join two or more vertebrae into a single structure. This joining, or “fusion,” can reduce back pain by preventing nerves, muscles and ligaments from stretching.
To facilitate spinal fusion, surgeons require additional bone, known as “graft,” to help the vertebrae fuse into a single structure. Different graft options exist, including both “allograft,” which is derived from donor bone, and “autograft,” which is bone derived from the patient’s own body.
Problems with Using Allograft
Dr. Abrahams has had significant concerns with the use of allograft. Allograft products are expensive and, because they are derived from cadavers, disease transmission and rejection risks exist. Importantly, using allograft in spinal fusion can be less effective than using the patient’s own bone. Further, most patients do not like the idea of cadaver bone being used for surgery in their body, especially when autograft options exist. As the allograft market developed, companies developed products similar to allograft, but even more expensive – for example, incorporating stem cells into allograft. When patients undergo a fusion of the lower back, the cost of such allograft products alone can approach $5,000 to $10,000 per surgery.
Problems with Using Non-Local Autograft
Dr. Abrahams is a strong believer in the use of autograft during spinal fusion procedures. One way to obtain autograft from a patient is to create a second surgical site on the patient’s hip and harvest this “non-local” autograft from the patient’s iliac crest. However, there are significant issues with this approach including longer operating times, increased blood loss, longer hospital stays and additional pain and infection risk from having a second surgical site.
Dr. Abrahams Driven to Create a Better Way to Obtain Local Autograft for his Patients
Knowing that the allograft and non-local autograft techniques were not the best options for his patients, Dr. Abrahams was driven to figure out an easy and cost-effective way to use autograft created at the surgical site, “localautograft,” in his procedures. Dr. Abrahams uses a high-speed drill to remove bone from the spine during his spinal fusion surgeries and always wondered… why isn’t there an easy way to collect the bone shavings or bone dust generated by this drilling as autograft? There were a few products on the market that attempted to collect this bone, but they were difficult to use, expensive and always underperformed.
The Genesis of the Capseus BDC-15
Dr. Abrahams and his business partner, Michael Bielski, a medical device entrepreneur, sat down in 2016 to develop their own bone dust collector that would easily and cost-effectively collect local autograft generated at the surgical site. With significant engineering, testing and clinical feedback, the Capseus BDC-15 was born (www.capseus.com). Launched in September 2019, the BDC-15 has successfully been used in cervical fusions, lumbar fusion and even craniotomies (to fill in spaces in the skull that may be cosmetically undesireable.)
Reducing Costs and Improving Patient Outcomes
The Capseus BDC-15 has proven to be easy-to-use and can collect as much drilled bone as needed during the procedure. In many cases, surgeons only need to remove the outer portion of the bone (cortex) for there to be enough bone to collect and use during surgery.
Using the Capseus BDC-15 significantly reduces costs. Only one BDC-15 is needed per procedure, compared to the cost of using allograft, which has costs that can rise significantly based on the amount of allograft needed in the procedure. Using the BDC-15 can sometimes save thousands of dollars on a single case.
This story started with Dr. Abrahams wanting to use local autograft to improve clinical outcomes for his patients. The BDC-15 now allows Dr. Abrahams to easily and cost-effectively use autograft for his patients without having to open a second surgical site.
Capseus has partnered with Dukal for product manufacturing, development and distribution.