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New robotic technology increases the safety and precision of spinal fusion surgeries

A new technology that increases the safety and precision of spinal fusion surgeries while reducing the time needed for the procedure now is available at Rush University Medical Center. Called the Mazor X Robotic Guidance Platform, the technology combines imaging prior to surgery and image guidance during the procedure, which enhances surgical planning and precision.

Spinal fusion is used to relieve pain and other symptoms for conditions including tumors, fractures, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, spondylolisthesis and degenerative disc disease. During spinal fusion, vertebrae (the bones of the backbone) are fused together, eliminating motion between the vertebrae.

Rush is the first hospital in Chicago to use the robotic platform, which has an imaging component that provides a customized 'blueprint' of a patient's spine along with detailed locations for spinal screws. The robotic platform attaches to the operating room table as well as the patient and includes a robotic arm that helps guide the surgeon as he or she places the screws into the proper locations.

"Because the robotic system makes placing screws more efficient, I am able to focus on different aspects of the procedure, such as deformity correction and decompression of nerves. The entire surgery can be completed in a shorter period of time," DeWald said.

Another benefit of robotic spinal fusion surgery is it decreases both a patient and surgeon's exposure to radiation, because the surgeon can depend less on X-ray imaging for guidance during surgery. The technology allows for the images taken during surgery to be matched with a computerized tomography (CT) scan taken prior to the procedure with submillimetric accuracy. The robot is able to match the patient's position during surgery with the pre-operative CT scan.


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