Spine surgery is pretty complex. Not to undermine other types of intricate surgeries, but when it comes to dealing with issues related to the spine, the stakes are pretty high. What’s been happening in the world of technology when it comes to ensuring better outcomes for spinal surgery patients? Robots of course! But, there is a catch.
There is a misconception when it comes to robotic surgery. Since it’s commonly called robotic surgery, some people think that they are going to be operated on by a robot, as if we are already living in a galaxy far, far away. Sorry to burst that bubble, but the robots in robotic surgery are assistants to the surgeon. It’s more accurately described as robotic guidance. Yes, amazingly precise, accurate and incredible assistants, but helpers nonetheless. The surgeon is in control.
Marcus Neuroscience Institute, located in Boca Raton Regional Hospital, part of Baptist Health, is now using the Medtronics Mazor X(™) Robotic Guidance Platform, an amazing robot that assists the spinal surgeon in the planning and execution of spinal surgeries with unsurmountable precision. These things are not easy to come by. In fact, this is one of only two facilities using this robot from central Florida, all the way to the Florida Keys.
These robots don’t look like their humanoid counterparts in the movies. These precision machines are purposefully designed for specific tasks assisting spinal surgeons. In these sophisticated, yet intuitive procedures, a robotic arm positions itself in the exact location where it needs to be to assist with the surgery. They have sensors, specialized instruments, and cameras to ensure they can assist the doctor in the planning and execution of these delicate surgeries.
During the procedure, doctors are looking at a fluoroscopic image of the spine, which is doctor-speak for continuous X-ray so they can see what they are doing. The robot uses the information from this real-time image and combines it with the prior CT scans and surgery plan to position itself in the exact location where it’s needed.
The word I can’t repeat enough that makes all the difference: precision, precision, precision. One millimeter can make all the difference, and, by using this robot, surgeons can accurately, and, most importantly, safely, place implants with millimetric accuracy. Other benefits include:
● Minimizing exposure to radiation.
● The ability to precisely navigate around nerves.
● Smaller incisions, which minimize blood loss, shorten recovery and decrease postoperative pain and discomfort.
In the end, spinal surgeons are the superstars, and giving them better tools can yield better outcomes for patients. These robots are amazing and incredibly advanced tools, but only in the hands of skilled surgeons can they help make an impact on human lives. Sorry Star Wars, for now on Earth, robots are just assistants, amazingly precise, but assistants nonetheless.