While minimally invasive surgical techniques have made spine surgery more accurate, less painful and less traumatic in recent years, robotics are now changing spine surgery for the better in ways we could only imagine just a few years ago. Robotic spine surgery offers many advantages to the patient, including greater precision, reduced tissue damage and faster recovery times. Even so, patients understandably have a lot of misconceptions and concerns about this new technology:
- Do robots actually perform surgery?
- What kind of surgeries can robots perform?
- What conditions can robotic surgery correct?
- Is robotic spine surgery safe?
- How does it work?
- Is robotic surgery right for me?
We have put together the following guide to provide context and answer some of our patients’ most common questions about robotic assisted surgery, as well as to educate them on what they need to know if they are a candidate for a robotic procedure.
A Quick Overview
The history of robotic surgery actually goes back several decades. From early concepts scientists began envisioning around the turn of the twentieth century, the first surgical robotic prototypes began appearing in the mid-1980s. The first FDA-approved spine surgery robotics emerged in the early 2000s with the ability to assist physicians with screw placment, and subsequent models continued to improve on placement accuracy until 2017, when ExcelsiusGPS took things a quantum leap forward by integrating GPS technology, resulting in greatly optimized accuracy and patient outcomes.
That said, the term “robotic surgery” is a bit of a misnomer, and it may be why so many patients get the wrong idea about it. Robots do not actually perform surgery; the surgeon is always in control. Thus, a better term for these procedures might be “robot-guided surgery.”
How Robotic-Guided Surgery Works
A robotic-assisted procedure works similarly to a manual procedure. Prior to the surgery, the surgeon will perform imaging of the patient’s anatomy, which the robotic navigation system will use to determine the exact point of screw placement. During the procedure itself, the robotics and navigation basically serve as an extension of the physician’s hand to make more incisions and screw placements more accurately than the surgeon could do manually. What sets ExcelsiusGPS apart from other spine surgery robots is that the GPS technology can make real-time adjustments to the navigation in response to the patient’s natural movements on the table, ensuring even greater accuracy. This leads to less trauma, less pain and greatly reduced recovery times compared to conventional surgical procedures.
What Conditions Can Be Treated with Robotic Spine Surgery?
Robotic surgery can essentially be used to help in healing numerous types of back-related injuries. These include herniated discs, slipped discs, leg pain (when related to the spine or spinal nerves), etc. Generally speaking, robotics can help with any condition that can be treated with spinal fusion, making the procedure less invasive and more effective.
At Polaris Spine & Neurosurgery Center, we are proud to introduce state-of-the-art robotic spine surgery to Atlanta, Georgia, and we are particularly pleased to be the first clinic in the Southeast to offer the Globus Medical ExcelsiusGPS system. To learn more about the advantages of robotic assisted surgery, call us at 404-256-2633.