Microscopes, AR goggles & robots: 4 spine surgeons on recent investments


From a spine robot to an innovative microscope and augmented reality goggles, four spine surgeons discuss recent and upcoming capital investments at their practices.

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: What advice do you have for emerging spine surgeons looking to establish their practice? How should they be looking at the future?

Please send responses to Alan Condon at acondon@beckershealthcare.com by 5 p.m. CST Wednesday, Dec. 9.

Note: The following responses were lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: What was the last big capital investment at your practice?

Todd Lanman, MD. Lanman Spinal Neurosurgery (Beverly Hills, Calif.): The latest mass purchase in innovation we made was the Mazor robot in October, which enables us to place screws and hardware with incredible precision into the spine, without any margin of error. We're now doing outpatient, robotically-assisted screw placement for spinal fusions in our local surgery center. We're also using the same technology for guiding exact placement of artificial disc technologies. 

The next technology on the agenda to investigate is augmented reality with the help of vision goggles, particularly the HoloLens 2, made by Microsoft. I'm working with Microsoft to develop some image-guided systems that surgeons can wear with their headset goggles.

Robert Bray Jr., MD. DISC Sports & Spine Center (Newport Beach, Calif.): My biggest capital expenditure this year was upgrading to a new Zeiss microscope and full OR digital integration system. While clearly leading the way in quality, the Zeiss microscope also allows continued teaching and development of the entire OR team. Fortunately, there are many capital lease buyback plans available. 

Brian Gantwerker, MD. Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles: At my practice, my largest capital investment is my staff. The return on investment is incalculable. COVID hit us hard, but we stayed open. My staff has been amazing and we support them every which way. While we kept working, we all worked together to ensure we all had personal protective equipment, and set up the office to be safe for us and our patients. They have been amazing and have kept the wheels turning. So, while my continued work has funded them, their safety and harmony has been a real engine to grow our business.

Hamid Abbasi, MD. PhD. Inspired Spine (Burnsville, Minn.): We recently invested in a CT machine, which was self-financed.

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