Groundbreaking Robotic Spine Surgery


I’m very excited to announce that I am one of the first Spine Surgeons in the United States to add the Mazor X StealthRobotic Platform to my surgical practice. The Mazor X System combines pre-operative planning tools and analytics with intraoperative guidance, giving me advanced surgery options. Using the 3d imaging, I’ll be able to show my patients exactly what each personalized procedure involves.

The platform integrates and streamlines three complex processes:

  1. 3D planning of surgery
  2. intraoperative precision of robotic guidance
  3. intra-op visualization with robotic navigation

This system can be used for: endoscopic spine surgery, minimally invasive back surgery, spinal stenosis surgery, lumbar back surgery, and more.

What is Robotic Assisted Spine Surgery?

Before entering the OR, I will use the 3D planning functionality to plan an optimal surgery in a CT-based 3D simulation of the patient’s spine. In addition, computer analytics will provide me with pre-operative data for procedure planning and intraoperative guidance during the procedure itself. Using these technologies, I can operate with precision, efficiency, and confidence!

Why Is Robotic Spine Surgery Necessary?

Minimally-invasive procedures with their smaller incisions can pose a challenge due to the limited view of the patient’s anatomy. The Mazor X Stealth Platform helps to overcome this challenge with a 3D comprehensive surgical plan and analytics that give me comprehensive information and visualization before the surgery starts. This technology allows for smaller incisions and shorter hospital stays for patients.

In short, as the requirements of specialized surgical operations continue to develop, so does the difficulty of such procedures. Robotic assisted surgery is the next step forward. I found the Mazor X Platform to be enabling with both accuracy and minimally-invasive approaches for spine procedures. The system helps us to continue our leadership in surgical excellence!

So you want a robot to do your spine surgery? You can now sign up…well at least for robot assisted surgery! Huntsville Hospital has recently purchased the Mazor robot for spine surgery and it is ready for action. I am sorry to diappoint you or perhaps I am happy to reassure you that a robot is not going to roll into the operating room, scrub in and replace your humanoid spine surgeon at the OR table. 

So exactly how does a robot help in spine surgery? Let’s describe the Mazor’s role as a very sophisticated assistant. Spine surgery involves two fundamental tasks: Decompression and Stabilization. Decompression involves the delicate process of relieving abnormal and painful pressure on compressed neural structures namely the spinal cord or spinal nerves. This abnormal pressure can be the result of a disc herniation or arthritic bone spurs that result in spinal stenosis. Even tumors, infection or trauma can cause painful pressure on neural structures. Pain, weakness or even paralysis can occur from compression on neural structures. Well the robot is not ready to replace the experienced hands of your spine surgeon to perform decompression techniques…at least not yet! 

Stabilization involves strengthening weak areas in the spine. In addition to causing abnormal pressure on nerves, degenerative disc disease, fractures, tumors and infection can destabilize the spine. Stabilizing a weak area of the spinal column involves fusing the weak area to relieve pain and prevent further danger to the spinal cord and spinal nerves. Fusing a weak, degenerative or unstable segment of the spinal column can also allow the spine to support the body for ambulation. 

Modern spinal fusion techniques utilize spinal instrumentation. Instrumenting two or more vertebrae together is accomplished by using screws and rods. Screws placed in the spine are typically placed in a narrow tubular structure called the pedicle. This is where the Mazor robot asssists the surgeon. Using preoperative imaging from a CT scan, the Mazor robot can map out the exact trajectory to safely place the pedicle screw in the best location even with a very small incision. In some cases this allows the surgeon to become more efficient and use smaller incisions to instrument the spine. Patients can mobilize quicker and sometimes go home from the hospital sooner.

I expect robotic techniques will continue to evolve and assist the spine surgeon in the operating room. But I assure you that a robot is no where close to replacing your spine surgeon. So if you need a spine surgery go with the advice of your surgeon. He or she may want to leave the robot in the hallway!