OrthoData arrives in Ohio with a sensor device for spine surgeries & $1.1M in new investments

3:07 pm by | 3 Comments

OrthoData IntelliRodA medical device company with a new way to help surgeons gauge the success of spinal fusion surgeries has just arrived in Northeast Ohio, and investors in the area have welcomed it with $1.1 million in fresh capital.

A recent transplant from Louisville, OrthoData Inc. is developing an implantable sensor that attaches to a rod in a pedicle screw system put in place during a spinal fusion surgery.

Lumbar spinal fusions are done to relieve symptoms of many conditions, including degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis. And they’re on the rise — one analysis estimated that the number of procedures more than doubled between 1998 and 2008.

Called IntelliRod, OrthoData’s sensor monitors the load being placed on the rod to which it’s attached, indicating to physicians the strength of the new bone that’s growing. “By knowing that load and watching whether it’s declining over time or not, it tells you the status of whether bone is growing across the disc space,” CEO Ric Navarro said.


The idea came from Dr. Randy Puno, an orthopedic surgeon in Louisville, who sought a better way to evaluate how well the spine was healing in his patients. Typically, this is assessed with an X-ray and, several months after surgery, a CT scan. But images only provide a snapshot in time, and that’s not always satisfactory for patients who are anxious to get back to work or play. It also exposes them to considerable amounts of radiation. And in rare cases, even those images aren’t clear and exploratory surgery may be necessary.

To collect a measurement with IntelliRod, physicians hold a reader device up to the patient’s back that collects data wirelessly from the sensor. “Once the strain in the rod drops and plateaus, then you know the bone is taking on most of the stress and the bone is healed,” Puno said. “If we’re able to send patients back to work early, then that’s a pretty big economic positive.”

In what CEO Ric Navarro said will likely be the first closing of OrthoData’s round, eight investors including non-profit venture group JumpStart (disclosure: JumpStart is an investor in MedCity Media), Akron BioInvestments Funds and six individuals backed the company with $1.1 million.

Navarro said that money will be used to make some engineering tweaks to the device, prepare it for animal studies and conduct those studies, which he hopes to begin in nine to 12 months. He anticipates the company will need another $300,000 to $500,000 more in funding to complete the studies, and expects to close on additional investments within three to six months.

Founded in 2003 by a group of Louisville researchers and Puno, the company was moved to Ohio partly to take advantage of the state’s hospital network, where Navarro said the company has already developed relationships. It’s setting up shop outside of Cleveland in Akron.

Previous to this round, it’s been funded by investments from Queen City Angels, Kentucky Seed Capital Fund, Kentucky Science & Technology Corporation and Commonwealth Seed Capital Fund.

[Photo from OrthoData]

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Deanna Pogorelc

By Deanna Pogorelc MedCity News

Deanna Pogorelc is a Cleveland-based reporter who writes obsessively about life science startups across the country, looking to technology transfer offices, startup incubators and investment funds to see what’s next in healthcare. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University and previously covered business and education for a northeast Indiana newspaper.
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Joe Schmoe
Joe Schmoe

I worked with Ric at another Ohio Medical Devices company.  I did design- and believe me, it takes a lot to get these ideas off the ground.  The FDA hurdles amount to a significant amount of money.  Prototyping, testing (hundreds of thousands of cycles per test).... This is not a waste.  


This company has zero paid employees besides the CEO. The office number is his cell phone. Only Jumpstart would invest in a 10 year old company and call it a startup. How much public money just went to this company?


Can someone explain why Jumpstart is allowed to invest in this?  It is bad enough that 75% of their funds go to pay for their high salaries and non investment operations.  One would at least hope that the little they do invest goes into the true early stage pre seed companies the state requires them to invest in.

How is a 10 year old company that has already raised at least $1.1m as of 2011 and is in the middle of a series B $7m raise considered a early stage startup?  Also, will anyone follow up to see if they really employ 4 people in Akron and what the total Ohio payroll is?  It is a little troubling that a 10 year old company only has 2 employees listed on Linkedin and one of them is a full time professor at the U of Louisville.

I wish this company all the best but we need accountability to make sure the public money is going to the type of companies the state requires it to be used for.  When you are a ten year old company that has already raised a $1m+  series A round and are in the middle of a $7m series B round, you are not the pre seed early stage company this money is required to go to.