The Pros and Cons of Robotic-Assisted Spine Surgery

Robert Watkins IV';

By Robert Watkins IV

Posted on August 12th, 2018 in Spine Center

In their lives, individuals have a more than 85% chance to, at one point, suffer from some back pain, more specifically what is known as low back pain.

Even with such increased odds of dealing with a certain type of back affection, it is only in about 10% of the cases that the cause of the problem is exactly pinpointed.

Because of its precision and accuracy, computer-guided surgery was first introduced in neurosurgery, but its advantages have allowed it to transition into the field of spinal issues with its various degrees of complexities.

As it is often referred to, the technique of spinal navigation has known valuable improvements over the last 3 decades, offering a better treatment experience to both surgeons and patients.

What Conditions Can Robotic-Assisted Spine Surgery Treat?

The premise upon which computer-guided spinal surgery operates is to obtain the same results as a traditional open back surgery would provide while significantly minimizing damages and risks during the procedure, such as harming the soft tissues and muscles around the area of intervention or fracturing ligament attachments.

More and more, surgical advanced technology is trusted by both doctors and patients to treat various conditions, including:

  • scoliosis
  • tumor
  • herniated disc
  • degenerative discs
  • spondylolisthesis
  • spinal stenosis

Even if computer-assisted surgery is definitely on the rise, as technology continues to offer the medical field gradually expanding solid ground, not all patients qualify for this type of intervention. Ultimately, a comprehensive discussion with your physician should determine the best possible approach for the best possible outcome.

Pro Arguments for Robotics in Spine Surgery

The computerized procedure allows for a higher rate of precision when compared to the more conventional open-back approach. The mobility of the equipment permits the surgeon to perform the bare hand, making it impossible. Among the benefits of a computer-assisted spine surgery would be:

  • a clearer perspective of the area to be operated
  • pushing aside soft tissue instead of cutting it
  • less scarring
  • less blood loss
  • lower risk of infection
  • minimized radiation exposure
  • short hospital stay
  • reduced postoperative pain

Robert Watkins IV, M.D., Chairman of the Surgery Department at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital and a board-certified orthopedic spine surgeon specializing in minimally invasive spine surgery, gave a presentation on why all spine surgeons should incorporate robotic technology into their operating rooms. The advantages he mentioned include:

  • pre-operative planning
  • possibility to combine it with minimally invasive techniques
  • visual-spatial ability and high accuracy in manipulations
  • minimizing the odds of needing revision surgery because of high precision and accuracy
  • reducing radiation exposure since X-rays aren’t required during the procedure

Cons Associated With Robotic Guided Spine Surgery

It is worth noting that robotic spinal surgery doesn’t mean robots take over and do the work. Robotic surgery success lies solely in the skill of the surgeon.

The procedure is a highly technical form of surgery and requires specialized, extensive training of the surgeon. Also, robotic guided spine surgery can be done only at centers of excellence, and hence the availability of this procedure is limited.

Other cons associated with robotic spine surgery:

  • Elevated costs. The surgical procedure by using high-tech equipment can increase the costs of the operation and treatment.
  • The issue of latency, which is the time delay between the instructions issued by the surgeon and the robot's movement that responds to the instructions.

Revolutionary Robotic Spine Surgery at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital

Surgeons at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital are now using state-of-the-art robotic spine surgery to increase efficiency, accuracy, and safety for otherwise lengthy and complex procedures.

If you need to be evaluated for spinal surgery, make sure to consult with an experienced minimally invasive spine surgeon to determine the best option for you. Our expert team of spine surgeons will give you all the information you need to prepare for your surgery and help you recover as safely and comfortably as possible. Call us today to schedule a consultation.