Eric P. Roger M.D.
What is computer assisted robotic surgery?
Computer assisted robotic surgery is an advanced, minimally invasive spinal fusion procedure where computer guidance is used to help navigate the fusion procedure. Traditionally, surgeons perform a lumbar fusion procedure using an “open” technique. Open surgery provides a direct line of vision to the vertebra through a longer incision which may aid in the process of inserting the implants. Minimally invasive technique using computer assisted robotics allows the surgeon to perform the procedure with smaller incisions and minimal dissection. Robotics technology guides the surgeon’s tools to ensure the highest levels of accuracy while possibly reducing the use of fluroscopy (intraoperative images) which can reduce the exposure to radiation. The benefits of minimally invasive spinal fusion is preserving surrounding healthy tissue which can result in fewer complications, less blood loss, minimal scars, less pain, faster recovery, and quicker return to daily life.
Here's a link to see more about computer assisted surgery from the Cleveland Clinic.
Who is a good candidate for this procedure?
Potential candidates for computer assisted lumbar fusions are patients with pain or instability in the lumbar spine from disc degeneration, spondylolisthesis (where one vertebra has slipped forward over another), degenerative scoliosis (spine misalignment) or recurrent herniated disc. However, computer assisted robotic surgery is not for everyone. A surgeon who is trained in minimally invasive and other spinal fusion techniques is the best person to determine the most appropriate option for each patient. A consultation with the proper surgeon is crucial in making that determination.
The lumbar spine, or low back, includes the five largest and strongest vertebrae. Between each vertebra is a gel-like disc that provides a cushioning effect to absorb pressure and distribute stress. The low back is vulnerable to many pain-provoking disorders, ranging from simple strains to a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis or spinal stenosis.
When is surgery recommended?
If you have worsening back or leg pain resulting from spondylolisthesis, disc degeneration, a recurrent herniated disc or other spine abnormality that limits your everyday activities, and conservative measures have failed, you could consider spinal fusion surgery.
The type of fusion surgery you have depends on many factors including your overall health, the location and severity of your problem, and your pain and disability. It is very important that you are carefully screened by a qualified surgeon who is trained in spinal fusion techniques to determine the best course of action.
What is the recovery time?
Minimally invasive techniques have many advantages that can lead to a faster recovery, including:
Less tissue damage and blood loss
Less post-operative pain
A shorter hospital stay