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Technology: Robotic spine surgery makes advances at Westside Surgical Hospital

May 2014
By Christian Richards, Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Westside Surgical Hospital

As medical technology continues to make advances, robotic surgery may soon become the preferred method for many spinal procedures. Robotic surgery allows physicians to use innovative technology to perform minimally invasive procedures that reduce pain and recovery times for patients and increases the accuracy in spinal surgery. In recognition of Westside Surgical Hospital’s commitment to robotic surgical procedures, the hospital has been chosen as a training center for Mazor Robotics Renaissance Guidance System, the only FDA-cleared robotic device for spine and brain surgeries.

The hospital already has one Renaissance system in place, and is adding a second unit as a training tool. Once operational, Westside will have two of the eight Renaissance systems currently in use throughout the State of Texas. There are a total of 36 units in use across the nation. Westside was chosen in large part due to the work of renowned spinal surgeon Dr. Richard Francis, director of robotic surgery and training at the hospital.

According to Christopher Prentice, Mazor Robotics’ Senior Vice President of Global Marketing, Westside’s central location in the U.S. may help attract surgeons from throughout the country to our facility. So in addition to having a surgical training lab at Westside, visiting surgeons will also have the opportunity to observe a Renaissance procedure with Dr. Francis, who is well experienced with the technology with over 100 procedures completed in his case series.

For his part, Dr. Francis says that robotics has forever changed the way he performs spinal surgeries, and is allowing a much wider range of treatment for even the most complex cases.

“We can extend what we do and move along a trajectory that would have been more difficult a few years ago,” Dr. Francis says. “For the complex cases where we have to put implants into the spine, the level of accuracy that it gives is truly remarkable. We can do things that are difficult — even extraordinary — and achieve these things because the robot allows us to instrument the spine under difficult circumstances. You can do it without even cutting the skin.”

In addition, Dr. Francis adds, “The robot can decrease a patient’s stay on the operating table by 40 percent to 50 percent for more complex cases, which lowers the risk of complication.”

Dr. Neil Badlani of The Orthopedic Sports Clinic, another spine surgeon at Westside Surgical Hospital notes the robotic system offers improved patient safety and faster recovery times.

“The Renaissance system is an innovative new tool for spine surgery that allows us to implant screws in the spine with increased accuracy, precision and safety with less radiation to our patients and ourselves,” Dr. Badlani says. “My practice focuses on minimally invasive spine surgery, which is done by using smaller incisions and muscle-sparring approaches so patients benefit with decreased pain and a faster return to activity. Patients are leaving the hospital now one to two days after a spinal fusion, significantly less than the week they would have stayed before. And they are back to the work and recreational activities they enjoy in only a few weeks.”