The use of robotics in surgery isn’t exactly a new concept, but with the technological advances of recent years, it is just now making its first inroads into the mainstream. Thanks to advantages like greater accuracy, smaller incisions and quicker recovery times, the few clinics that offer robotic-assisted surgery are considered to be on the cutting edge of advancement in their field. Even as more people become aware of the technology, questions are already being asked: What is the future of robotic spine surgery? Based on current and past trends, here’s where we see this medical advancement heading in the coming years.
Removing Barriers to Entry
Despite abundant evidence that robotics can greatly improve the surgical experience and outcomes, relatively few spine services can offer this option at the current time. The two biggest challenges are:
- Cost: the equipment and software are quite expensive, and many clinics don’t have the overhead to afford them; and
- Education: surgeons often face a steep learning curve with the new tech, and some are reluctant to invest the effort to learn.
In the upcoming years, we expect the costs of the technology will begin to drop naturally, and more efficient training systems will be offered to utilize it. We also expect more clinics to see the inherent value of adding robotic-assisted surgery to their offerings.
Expanded Scope of Use
While the primary use of robotics in spinal surgery is the placement of pedicle screws, some experts predict the technology will eventually be refined to the point of assisting with more complex procedures, particularly with soft tissue surgery. Some also anticipate robotics playing a greater role throughout the surgical timeline, from planning to post-operative care. The implementation of machine learning and artificial intelligence may play a key role in these developments.
Improved Navigational Features
Up to now, many medical experts have viewed robotics’ role in spine surgery as a limited one — primarily as a way of improving the accuracy of screw placement. The only way to improve this function, they surmise, is to implement stronger navigation technology into the system in order to account for natural patient movement. Polaris Spine & Neurosurgery Center is currently one of the few clinics in the nation to offer this improve navigation with ExcelsiusGPS, an advanced system that utilizes GPS-like technology to recalculate screw placement based on the patient’s anatomy and natural movements in real time. Thus, from a certain standpoint, here at Polaris, the future of robotic spine surgery is now. To learn more about ExcelsiusGPS, give us a call at 404-256-2633.