Why 3 spine surgeons see robotics continuing to grow – Drs. Stephen Hochschuler, Jonathan Carmouche & Robert Brady

Written by Alan Condon | August 07, 2019 | Print  |

Robotics in spine are here to stay according to three prominent spine surgeons. Here's what they had to say about the future of robotics in spine.

Question: How do you see robotics developing in spine?

Stephen Hochschuler, MD. Orthopedic spine surgeon and founding physician of Texas Back Institute (Plano). Robotics are going to have to get cheaper so that your quality of care, global fees and episodes of care can be reasonably done and reasonably charged. Companies are working on robots that are less expensive, there are new materials now that are better and cheaper, but I think robotics is here to stay. Initially robots, because of FDA approval, all had to be physician controlled. I think with time it's going to be almost like what you see in car manufacturing; you have some amazing robots doing very complex tasks. It will take a while, but it will occur. 

Jonathan Carmouche, MD. Section Chief of Scoliosis and Pediatric Orthopedics at Carilion Clinic (Roanike, Va.) and Director of the Musculoskeletal Education and Research Center at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. With increased interest in 1) minimizing radiation to patient, surgeon and staff, 2) precise and accurate implant placement and 3) minimally invasive technologies, spine robotics are here to stay. Though the technology may not yet be optimal, it has reached a point where it is reasonable and available. Surgeons are now and will increasingly continue to be pressured to decrease hospital length of stay, to decrease reoperation rates. Robotics can help the surgeon community safely transition to more minimally invasive surgical instrumentation procedures while decreasing radiation exposure and maintaining low implant malposition rates. 

Robert Brady, MD. Orthopedic Surgeon and Spine Specialist at Norwalk (Conn.) Hospital and OrthoConnecticut (Danbury). Currently, the ExcelsiusGPS system assists the surgeon in inserting pedicle screws in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine, and sacroiliac joint. With this technology, we are able to limit the intraoperative radiation during pedicle screw insertion in a safer, faster fashion. I think the next advancement in robotics for spine will be software and instruments for navigation in inserting interbody cages, anterior instrumentation, and performing cranial surgery. This will allow us to virtually eliminate any significant intraoperative radiation.

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