Dr. Stewart Kerr eyes endoscopic, robotic opportunities at spine practice

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Minimally invasive and robotic surgical technology will bring substantial opportunities for growth in spine surgery, Stewart Kerr, MD, said.

Dr. Kerr, of Orthopedic Specialists of Seattle, spoke on the "Becker's Healthcare Spine and Orthopedic Podcast" about his outlook for the technologies.

This is an excerpt. Listen to the full episode here.

Question: When you think about your practice, what do you see as some of the big opportunities to grow over the next year or two?

Dr. Stewart Kerr: One of the big opportunities is going to be endoscopic spine and robotics. If I have a patient with a large thoracic disc herniated, the conventional way of treating that oftentimes requires a fairly substantial resection where you may even have to take portions of the rib head in order to access the decompression effectively.

Now we have endoscopic spine techniques that will allow us to truly do this through a more minimally invasive procedure where you're directly looking at the pathology and directly peeling that away from compressed neural structure, specifically the spinal cord. I think that can be much more safely accomplished through some of the technologies so long as the individuals that are performing have received, you know, a very, very thorough adequate training regimen and signed off to the point where they can do this safely. So I think that that's a really big opportunity that we're gonna see emerge over the next three to five years.

I also think robotics are going to play a huge role. With the aging population, a lot of those patients are healthy enough to undergo surgery and will do well with well-executed, well-performed surgery so long as we don't have them in an anesthetic phase of their management for an undue amount of time, because it's hard on them physiologically to recover from. So if I can cut down the amount of time that I require to safely and very accurately position my posterior instrumentation, like pedicle screws and my rod construct, in essentially half the amount of time in the operating suite, that's a real benefit not only on the patient but also on the group other patients that are required to be managed.

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