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New Surgeon-Operated Robotic-Assisted System for Complex Spine Surgery
February 28, 2022

St. Luke’s neurosurgeons are performing minimally invasive spine surgery using the Medtronic Mazor X Robotic Surgical System. Because the surgeon-operated system provides minimally invasive spine surgery, with smaller incisions and less disruption of tissue, patients recover faster and have shorter hospital stays. Spine surgery may be appropriate for the many people with a debilitating neck or back condition that hasn’t responded to conservative, non-surgical treatments. 

Robotic-assisted spine surgery is considered one of the safest, most accurate minimally invasive spinal procedures available. This advanced, computer-assisted robotic surgical guidance system further increases safety and precision during these complex procedures.

The Mazor X system enables surgeon and robot to work in tandem to achieve the most accurate placement of surgical screws during spinal fusion surgery. Pre-surgery planning is enhanced with the capture of three-dimensional CT patient scans that are integrated with the system’s proprietary software to map the procedure.   

During surgery, the surgeon and robot follow GPS-like guidance, blended with data analytics and real-time surgical field imaging. This helps pinpoint the perfect location for surgical screw placement before the surgeon programs the robotic arm to guide placement.   

St. Luke’s spinal neurosurgeon Justice Agyei, MD, calls this advanced generation of robotic- assisted technology “a game-changer, the newest, best thing” in the industry, because it adds accuracy to the delicate procedure of small-incision spinal fusion surgery in the lumbar (lower back) and thoracic (upper back) regions.  

Spinalfusion is the surgical process of straightening, stabilizing and strengthening the spinal column by affixing small metallic fixtures, called cages, and rods to the vertebrae with screws. Misplaced screws can result in vertebral damage, patient pain andeven repeat surgery, so accurate screw placement is critical. 

St. Luke’s Neurosurgical Associates introduced the Medtronic Mazor X Robotic Surgical System to St. Luke’s University Health Network in December 2021, a computer-driven, minimally invasive platform that increases the safety and precision to the performance of complex spine surgery.  

“Nothing beats safety in this surgery, and the Mazor X platform provides the highest level of operative precision and safety I have seen,” says Dr. Agyei. He is an experienced user and proponent of the system, having operated with it extensively during his advanced complex spine fellowship training at the University of Buffalo (NY) for three years before joining St. Luke’s.  

Dr. Agyei says patients who are candidates for spinal fusion surgery often suffer unrelenting pain despite having tried medication, physical therapy and even alternative pain control options without success.  

“Anatomically, things like degenerative discs, spinal fractures, instability and deformity can cause terrible back pain that doesn’t respond to non-surgical treatments,” he says. “This new robotic-assisted surgical system will benefit our community.”

See video: https://vimeo.com/680581123/0d12635789