When people imagine having spine surgery, there’s a good chance they see a mile-long scar and a person lying flat on their back, recovering for weeks. The truth is that in the last several years, spine surgery has not only become much safer, but the incisions have become much smaller and recovery is much less of an ordeal.
In fact, with the introduction of minimally invasive spine surgery, many patients are able to avoid overnight stays, and walk out of outpatient surgery centers within a few hours of their procedure.
What makes these innovations even more remarkable is the fact that improvements are continuing on a nearly daily basis – and the most recent spine surgery improvements have involved the use of robots.
Robotics is becoming increasingly common in surgeries of all kinds. Though it has been available for various types of operations since the 1980s, it wasn’t until the year 2004 that the first robotic-assisted surgical system was introduced for spinal surgery. Since that time, it has been used more and more for minimally invasive spine surgery, allowing greater precision for the placement of small instruments and allowing smaller and smaller incisions to be made.
The addition of robotic systems does not mean that the spine surgeon is no longer performing surgery. Instead, the robotic systems serve as a guidance platform that combines software and technology to make sure that incision placement is extremely accurate.
It has seen the most prevalent use in patients who have herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, scoliosis and who need problems with previous failed surgeries addressed.
In most cases, the spine surgeon begins with a CAT scan of the area that is causing the problem, then allows the robotics’ software to create a blueprint of what’s seen on the scan so that the entire operation is mapped out before the surgery begins. The hardware tied in to the system then acts to guide the surgical instruments, keeping everything as precise as possible and allowing for the absolute smallest incisions to be made and the surgery to be performed with meticulous attention to detail.
Though the robotics technology helps to ensure that the surgery goes exactly as planned, it is the surgeon who is still making the decisions about the numerous variables that differentiate each patient’s needs and the specifics of each particular case.
The appropriateness of minimally invasive robotic surgery depends upon numerous factors, and the procedures may not be right for everyone. Those patients for whom robotic minimally invasive surgery is recommended can anticipate numerous advantages of the technology, including greater precision and accuracy throughout the procedure, smaller incisions with less bleeding and lower risk of infection, and most importantly faster recovery times.
If you are experiencing any type of back pain, the first step to recovery is to make an appointment with our spine surgery practice in New Jersey. We will diagnose your problem and determine the best approach to provide you with relief.