3 Spine Surgeons on the Use of Robotics in the Operating Room


Here three spine surgeons discuss whether or not robotics will become necessary in spine operating rooms in the future. Ask Spine Surgeons is a weekly series of questions posed to spine surgeons around the country about clinical, business and policy issues affecting spine care. We invite all spine surgeon and specialist responses. Next week's question: Are you performing image-guided spine surgery? What are the challenges and benefits?

Please send responses to Heather Linder at hlinder@beckershealthcare.com by Wednesday, July 17, at 5 p.m. CST.

Kern Singh, MD, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago: Robotics is such a broad-based catch-all phrase. Unquestionably, technology is making its way into the operating room. More sophisticated intraoperative imaging allows for surgical navigation. Various robotic manufacturers utilize navigation to help improve surgeon accuracy. However, the cost of the device is still prohibitive and as such limits these devices to large hospitals. Additionally, the technology is in its infancy and results in an increase in operative time. Nevertheless, robotics and advanced imaging will inevitably make its way in to everyday use. However, in what form is still to be determined.

Terrence Crowder, MD, Spine Surgeon, Sonoran Spine Center, Mesa, Ariz.: The role of robotics will increase in the operating room. In general surgery and urology, the da Vinci surgical system has almost become a standard piece of hospital equipment. Currently, the results of the da Vinci are equivalent to laparoscopic techniques with slightly better pain and recovery. I currently utilize the Mazor Robotics Renaissance system. Accuracy rates of screw placement of are over 98 percent. Ultimately, patient safety and outcomes will be improved with robotics. Robots may allow us to improve recovery by using smaller incisions and possibly decrease complication rates. The precision and accuracy of robotics can hopefully lead to a new era in surgery.

Daniel Fassett, MD, Neurosurgeon, Illinois Neurological Institute, Peoria: I am skeptical that robotics will be used extensively in spinal surgery. I believe that there are very limited potential benefits of robotics in spinal surgery, and in today's cost-conscious environment, it will be challenging to justify more expenditures unless there are proven economic advantages to these new technologies.

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