Dr. Frank Shen: The spine surface technology, techniques being developed at the University of Virginia School of Medicine lab

Laura Dyrda -   Print  |

Charlottesville, Va.-based University of Virginia Health System is pioneering new technology in spine surgery operating rooms.

Frank Shen, MD, division head for spine surgery in the department of orthopedic surgery, outlined technology development in the early stages: "From a basic science standpoint, our research laboratory at the University of Virginia School of Medicine has been developing tissue engineering techniques and nanoparticles to help address challenges associated with large graft defects that can occur during revision spine surgery and developing percutaneous and systemic treatments for addressing inflammation and scars that can occur around nerves due to injury or after surgery. As these technologies advance, it will not be long before we start to combine, and incorporate, them into our clinical practices."

He sees emerging fields in spine surgery including robotics, advanced imaging technique, wireless and smart technologies as well as nano-engineering.

"We are seeing the application of those technologies in our practices already," he said. "Currently, our institution is already utilizing robot-guided technologies to increase the accuracy and precision of what we do in the operating room. In addition, we have been using real-time virtual imaging obtained from intraoperative 3D scans to develop virtual surgical plans and executing the plan intraoperatively. The use of wireless and 'smart technologies' will allow instruments, and likely implants, to communicate with one another seamlessly and in real-time, and will soon become commonplace."

Read the full Q&A with Dr. Shen here.

More articles on spine surgery:
NuVasive introduces new spine surgery technology & more: 5 device company notes
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DePuy Synthes holds 19% of minor orthopedic device market

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