Spinal Fusion Surgery Takes Big Leap Forward With Robotic Technology

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What do you think of when you hear the phrase “robotic spine surgery”? For Dr. Joshua Rovner—a Castle Connolly Top Doctor with a thriving New York/New Jersey practice—a variety of answers come to mind … “advanced medical care”, “the future of surgery”, “precision”, “safety” and “success”. 

Dr. Rovner believes so strongly in robotic spine surgery because he has seen the results firsthand.

“When it comes to back pain, conservative treatments like stretching, chiropractic care or injections are usually the best place to start,” he explains. “But when these conservative procedures fail, spinal fusion surgery can often deliver a cure. One of the newest and most-effective breakthroughs in spinal fusion procedures is robotic spine surgery.”

We asked Dr. Rovner to explain why.

At the center of the discussion is, quite obviously, technology. “For traditional spinal surgery, the surgeon often relies on his or her own skill and technique to deliver the best results,” he says. “With the advanced robotics, the surgeon has a ‘partner’ that delivers a greater level of insight and precision.” Dr. Rovner’s preferred technology is the Mazor Robotic System.

“With Mazor’s 3D software, the surgeon is able to identify challenging anatomy—and create a highly-customized surgical plan—before the surgery begins,” Dr. Rovner asserts. “This is a huge advantage to the surgeon and the patient because it promotes both efficiency and accuracy.”

 
 

“When it comes to back pain, conservative treatments like stretching, chiropractic care or injections are usually the best place to start,” he explains. “But when these conservative procedures fail, spinal fusion surgery can often deliver a cure. One of the newest and most-effective breakthroughs in spinal fusion procedures is robotic spine surgery.”

 
 

This is important because of the precision that is required to stabilize the spine. “In spinal fusion surgery, the key to success is accurately placing the stabilizing screws,” Dr. Rovner explains. This is because the surgery is centered on joining two or more vertebrae so that there is no movement between them. Rods and screws are used to hold the vertebrae together to ensure proper healing. 

“There is a very small space near the nerves and spinal canal where the stabilizing screws need to be placed,” Dr. Rovner says. “Complications happen when the screws are misplaced.”

Even though those complications are rare in traditional spinal fusion, which has a 90 percent success rate, robotic spinal fusion is completed with 99 percent accuracy. 

Dr. Rovner asserts that the more precise placement of the screws reduces the patient’s pain and recovery time and lowers the risk for post-operative complications.

Still, even with the advanced technology of the robotic system, patients still need to consider the skill of the doctor. To ensure the best outcome, Dr. Rovner advises patients to work with a surgeon who has a vast amount of training and experience in spinal surgery.

“The surgical training for spinal surgery is highly specialized,” he explains. “The techniques used in spinal surgery must be accurate and precise—there is no room for error. Becoming a spine surgeon is an extremely competitive and demanding process. It requires excellent test scores during four years of medical school, five years of orthopaedic surgery residency, and an additional year in a spine surgery fellowship.”

Another important consideration is board certification, which helps ensure the surgeon has unbiased validation of their skills and knowledge. Dr. Rovner is certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons.

If spinal pain is limiting your ability to work, taking you away from time with loved ones, or stopping you from enjoying an active life, spinal fusion surgery—performed by an expert surgeon—might be the right choice.

 

ABOUT THE EXPERT

Joshua S. Rovner, MD

Orthopaedic Spine Surgery
Robotic Spinal Fusion Surgery
Englewood, NJ

ProgressiveSpine.com