Groundbreaking Robotic Spinal Surgery Proves Essential for Child’s Spinal Repair

Robotic spinal surgery is becoming more and more common in the United States. The use of robots has provided better precision and improved safety for accurate screw placement that lowers the risk of post-operative complications. It is one of the procedures that we are proud to offer at our cervical and lumbar spine specialist practice in New Jersey. But the procedure is not as common in other areas of the world, so it was a groundbreaking moment when a robot completed spinal surgery on a child with severe progressive scoliosis at the University Hospital of Amiens in France.

The 6-year-old child, named Louis, was born with a genetic disorder called infantile spinal amyotrophy that has left his back bent at an extreme angle. Through the years he has been treated with a variety of protocols, including rehabilitation and therapy, orthopedic corsets and back braces. Those were insufficient to treat his condition, and he has been bedridden for several months. According to head of surgery Professor Richard Gouron, it was understood that the child needed surgery, but the complexity of the procedure presented tremendous challenges. “It was a question of placing illio-sacral screws and hooks at the top of the back, connected by arched rods to straighten the back. The installation of screws seven millimeters in diameter into a bone corridor of eight millimeters near the roots of the nervous system remains very complex and rare: they are voluminous in view of the small size of the child’s bones.”

Working together, pediatric orthopedic surgeon Dr. Francois Deroussen, neurosurgeon Dr. Michel Lefranc and Professor Gouron worked to simulate the operation, understanding that the robot’s precision and three-dimensional vision that made the procedure possible. They created a reproduction of the patient’s spine and installed it in a mannequin for practice, and the surgery was simulated twice before it was attempted.

The procedure represented two first in France – that of the simulation and the surgery itself. Professor Gouron pointed out that the use of the robot also aided in the patient’s recovery. “The incisions are smaller thanks to the robot, there is less post-operative pain and the patient can sit more quickly.”

The entire procedure, which took place on September 28th, took just three hours, and Louis is now able to breathe more easily as well as to sit up correctly. There are now four more children scheduled to undergo the exact same operation.

At our spine practice, robotic spinal surgery provides our patients with several benefits, including:

• Increased precision for screw placement
• Reduced rate of permanent nerve damage
• Fewer complications and faster recovery time
• Reduced exposure to radiation for repeat X-rays

The use of robotics has eliminated or reduced the impact of many of the variables that can lead to complications during or following spinal surgery. To see whether you are a candidate for this innovative procedure, contact our office today to set up an appointment.

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