Overview

Every day, technology and science continue to incredibly advance, and this is evident in the world of surgery where recent developments in spine surgery have led to the introduction of robotic technology in the operating room.

But, despite being recent, robotic spine surgery has been up for debate among spinal specialists and surgeons. Here are the pros and cons of this latest surgical invention:

Pros

1. Precise Procedure

According to some spinal specialists and surgeons, robotic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure where the surgeon controls the instruments and camera through the aid of a console. The surgeon operates the robot while looking through a monitor, which allows him/her to see inside the patient. The robot mimics every movement the surgeon makes, and this allows for unprecedented control, precision, and access to the human body.

2. Great Sign for the Future of Medicine

Several studies have not only shown the benefits of robotic technology but also have demonstrated the implications it has for the future of medicine. In general, the average length of hospital stay for patients undergoing robotic surgery was significantly reduced by 27%, and rates of complications reduced by 48%.

3. Safe

A recent study published in Head and Oncology indicates that a robotic arm filters out hand movement; thus, can help reduce unavoidable tremors in a human hand.

Ideally, robotic technology is ergonomically desirable and allows cosmetic benefits to the patients because of smaller incision size. Dr. Rovner, New Jersey spine surgeon, maintains that robotic spine surgery has the following benefits:

surgeon and robotic spine surgery

  • Faster recovery time
  • Minimized risk for permanent nerve damage
  • Reduced exposure to radiation (for repeat x-rays)
  • Significantly increased precision for screw placement
  • Less post-operative complications

Cons

1. Needs Improvement and Further Development

According to other studies, robotic spine surgery still needs improvement and further development, as well as better surgeon training. The average duration for surgery using robotic guidance system was 106 minutes, while manual surgery was 82 minutes. This means that you will be anesthetized longer, and this is likely to increase your risk of anesthesia-related complications.

2. Costly

The typical machine used to perform robotic surgeries can cost approximately $2.6 million. And this can certainly add up to a higher cost for hospitals and patients set to undergo the spine surgery.

3. Has Potential Risks and Drawbacks

Procedures and technology behind this surgery have potential risks and drawbacks. In 2012, there was an increase in reports of death and injury during operations using robotic technology. Since robotic spine surgery is still in its early phases of development, it’s only offered by a few spine surgeons in New Jersey. Moreover, not all orthopedic surgeons and spinal specialists are qualified to use robotic technology.

Conclusion

As for any medical procedure, it is up to the doctor and you to agree on which course of action is best for your situation. Although it has a few undesirable attributes, robotic spine surgery is a growing area of technology with the ability to help in medical breakthroughs, and eventually take patients’ outcomes to the next level.