Meet the Innovators behind XLX ACR®

We’re featuring XLX ACR® innovators, Andrew, Chris, and Stephanie, to give you an inside look into what it’s like helping drive innovation here at NuVasive.

What sparked the need for XLX ACR?

  • All: XLIF® has been in the market for 15 years. Being the leaders of lateral spine surgery, we needed to advance our position in the lateral expandable market. XLX ACR is the first NuVasive lateral lordotic expandable, which will join TLX and MLX in our growing expandable portfolio. There remains great opportunity in lateral spine surgery and XLX ACR helps us extend our leadership position.

What were the resources required to develop XLX ACR?

  • Stephanie, Marketing: There were endless amounts of resources needed for this project. First, an engaged surgeon design team played a critical role in creating this product. Also, it goes a long way to be able to work with a great engineering team. We were all in constant communication to fine tune designs to meet the clinical requirements.
  • Andrew and Chris, Engineering: This project really highlighted the value of rapidly prototyping new designs through the NuVasive internal prototype machine shop. As our engineering team uncovered design challenges, it was the ability to iterate upon the design, manufacture parts, and run tests onsite that allowed the project to stay on schedule. With the help of our onsite machining abilities, the entire team was able to bring the best possible product to market with cheetah speed!

Sometimes the first idea might not be the best idea. Was the original idea for XLX ACR what it is today? If it changed, what necessitated the change?

  • Andrew and Chris: Absolutely not. The prototypes we designed throughout the process illustrate how the product development process plays out at NuVasive. The initial designs are more representative than functional, but they allow us to engage our surgeons, initiate discussions, and refine the specific design requirements of the system. As our team continuously iterates and expands on the original designs, we are able to develop an implant that provides the most elegant solutions to real, clinical problems that our surgeon customers see every day.
  • Stephanie: The first iteration looks nothing like the one we have today. During each step of the project, we learned more and improved upon how to incorporate different features to create a final design that has led us to XLX ACR!

What was your favorite part about the design and marketing process for XLX ACR?

  • Andrew and Chris: The best part of the design process is taking an idea from a “napkin sketch” all the way to manufacturing prototypes for our surgeon team to evaluate. This gives us the opportunity to better understand our customers’ requirements and tie together the clinical aspects of the system.
  • Stephanie: From the marketing side, it was great to work with our surgeon partners and be able to have ideas come to life. Now, we get to bring it to market and truly change patient’s lives.

What skills were needed to help create XLX ACR?

  • Andrew and Chris: The ability to identify different ways an expandable implant can possibly fail. With an implant that has many moving pieces and connections, there are more ways things can could go wrong compared to a static implant. To see if our device was strong enough to withstand clinically relevant loading conditions, it was necessary to take a step back and think critically about absolutely everything that could fail and run the necessary tests.
  • Stephanie: ACR is an advanced XLIF technique and the lateral expandable market is something we have not encountered before. Integrating these two things together required being able to predict how different variables would change as the procedure evolves. We are constantly learning from our surgeon partners and each other on how to position and create the best system out there.

View a few of our other Innovator Interviews: XLIF® Crestline™, Modulus® XLIF, Lateral ALIF™, and RELINE® Small Stature.

If you’re interested in becoming part of the innovation here at NUVA, search our open roles here.

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