Back pain can range from a minor annoyance to a debilitating condition. For patients with spinal deformities, back pain and related symptoms can make it difficult to go about their everyday activities. Fortunately, significant advancements in spine surgery can help preserve spine function and improve the quality of life for many patients. Learn more about the benefits of robotic surgery for spine conditions from Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics, providing compassionate care throughout northern New Jersey.
What Is Robotic Spine Surgery?
Many spine conditions can be treated with conservative care, such as oral medications, injection treatments, and physical therapy. However, patients with spinal deformities and other significant spine injuries may require surgery. Robotic spine surgery is a form of minimally invasive surgery that uses assistive technology to provide surgeons with an increased degree of precision. Using X-ray imaging and 3D planning software, a surgeon can create a detailed plan for a patient’s procedure. After making small incisions, a surgeon operates a robotic arm to carefully place implants along the spine.
Conditions That May Require Spinal Surgery
Robotics and spine navigation systems are best used to treat complex spine cases and different types of spinal deformities, such as:
Kyphosis is a condition in which the spine abnormally curves forward, causing muscle spasms and neck or back pain. It may be congenital, develop as a person age, or can be caused by fractures of the thoracic spine. A patient with kyphosis may appear hunched over. If left untreated, kyphosis can become extremely debilitating, limit movement, prevent the individual from being able to look up, and lead to compression of the airways, which makes it difficult to breathe.
Scoliosis can be a hereditary or degenerative condition in which the spine is abnormally curved to one side. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), scoliosis may affect six to nine million people in the U.S. While adolescent scoliosis is a hereditary condition that often resolves on its own, adult scoliosis can lead to back pain, uneven gait, or even disfigurement. Adult scoliosis typically develops after the age of 60, as wear and tear on the spine disrupt its alignment.
Robotic technology also can help surgeons correct a condition called failed back surgery, which occurs if post-operative complications or additional injuries cause a surgical procedure to fail. These revision surgeries need to be carefully planned to address the patient’s specific injuries or spinal deformities. In some cases, robotic spine surgery can be used to treat spinal tumors.
Benefits of Robotic Spine Surgery
While patients may be wary of the idea of robotic surgery, the surgeon is always in control of the robotic device – and the minimally invasive procedure may be preferable to open surgery in many cases. The advantages of robotic spine surgery include:
- Shorter hospital stay: Unlike traditional or open surgery, robotic surgery does not require large incisions or cutting through muscle tissue. This means a patient may spend less time in the hospital afterward and return to the comfort of their home sooner.
- Lower infection rates: Minimally invasive surgery allows for smaller incisions, meaning that patients are less likely to develop infections while the incision site heals, lose less blood during surgery, and have fewer complications afterward.
- Easier recovery: Because robotic surgery is minimally invasive, patients typically can resume their normal activities sooner and experience less post-operative pain and swelling.
- Less radiation exposure: When a medical team creates the surgical plan for a robotic-assisted procedure, they typically need to take only one initial X-ray of the patient’s spine. This reduces radiation exposure for both the patient and the provider.
- Higher accuracy: When a surgeon uses a robotic arm to place implants, the robotics capability normalizes the variation between surgeons’ capabilities to perform the procedure freehand.
After robotic surgery, patients will need to see their doctor for follow-up appointments to monitor their recovery. They will also benefit from structured physical therapy to improve flexibility, muscle strength, and range of motion in their back.
Find Comprehensive Spine Care at CNSO
Patients who need complex spine surgery to correct a deformity or failed back syndrome can find expert care from the team of neurosurgeons at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics. Located in northern New Jersey and serving patients through multiple care centers in the area, CNSO has extensive experience performing a wide range of traditional, minimally invasive, and robotic surgical procedures. To learn more about robotic spine surgery or to schedule a consultation, contact CNSO today.