University of Pennsylvania surgeons perform 1st-of-its-kind robotic spine surgery: 7 things to know

Mackenzie Garrity -   Print  | Email

Professors and surgeons at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia performed a first-of-its-kind robotic surgery to treat a patient suffering from Chordoma.

Here are seven things to know.

1. Physicians performed a three-part, two-day, 20-hour successful spine surgery in August 2017. This robotic-assisted spine surgery was the first ever to remove the rare tumor where the neck meets the patient's spine.

2. Bert O'Malley, MD, and Neil Malhorta, MD, assembled a multidisciplinary team to treat the patient. Dr. O'Malley was designated to help with the patient's recovery by using a trans-oral robotic approach for the second part of the surgery.

3. TORS is the world's first group of minimally invasive robotic techniques to remove benign and malignant tumors of the mouth and throat. Penn invented this approach.

4. The first step of surgery required neurosurgeons to go through the back of the patient's neck and cut the spine around the tumor to prepare for the second stage.

5. During the second stage, Dr. O'Malley went through the patient's mouth using a surgical robot to clear a path enabling Dr. Malhorta to later remove the tumor and part of the spinal column.

6. The final step required the team of surgeons to reconstruct the patient's spinal column, which was then missing a crucial bone in the neck. They used some of the patient's hip bones and rods to create stabilization in the newly created spine.

7. Nine months post-surgery the patient is back to work.

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