The Benefits of Robot-Assisted Spine Surgery

Spine robert

September 18, 2019

If you are experiencing back pain or sciatica symptoms that do not respond to nonsurgical treatment, you may be a candidate for minimally invasive robot-assisted spine surgery at the Marc A. Asher, MD, Comprehensive Spine Center. The University of Kansas Health System is the first in the region to use ExcelsiusGPS® spinal robotics, designed to optimize patient care by combining robotics with navigation, similar to a GPS in your car. Joshua Bunch, MD, and Brandon Carlson, MD, MPH, share why this procedure is beneficial for patients with spine conditions.

Spine surgeons Joshua Bunch, MD, and Brandon Carlson, MD, talk about robotic-assisted spine surgery.

Justin Robinson: Dr. Joshua Bunch and Dr. Brandon Carlson are two of the top spine surgeons in the region. With the new ExcelsiusGPS® robot by Globus Medical, they believe the service they provide to their patients will improve.

Dr. Bunch: The option to do this first case together in the region, I think that that's something that we're just really excited about.

Dr. Carlson: I think we work well together. We both really take pride and take care of our patients. It's really personal for us.

Justin Robinson: Both want to ensure that their patients who are sometimes scared about their spinal condition, know that the robot will only help them provide better care.

Dr. Bunch: It allows us to improve our accuracy with our instrumentation placement. It allows us to decrease our operative times, decrease the blood loss for a given patient, hopefully speed their time, their intraoperative stay in the hospital, and also decrease the radiation they receive for a given case.

Dr. Carlson: One of the misconceptions that many patients might not understand is the robot doesn't do the surgery. This is an assistant to us that helps us do a robot assisted procedure and as Josh said, it increases our accuracy. It actually makes us a higher functioning surgeon.

Justin Robinson: Before the team performs the first surgery with the spine robot, they all go through an extensive training process with Globus Medical staff members.

Dr. Bunch: Being the first institution in the region, we're really excited to have that role. I think that hopefully we can convey that to patients that we're still providing the same great care that we've always provided at The University of Kansas Health System. Now we're just able to do it in a new way that just improves the accuracy and the quality of spine care that we can deliver.

Justin Robinson: The team here emphasizes that it is a collaborative effort across multiple divisions to advance spine care and improve the patient experience here at The University of Kansas Health System.

Frequently asked questions

  • A: Robot-assisted spine surgery is a huge advantage for our patients. It decreases blood loss, time in surgery and radiation exposure in the operating room. It allows physicians to accurately and safely place spinal implants around important structures like nerves with high precision.

  • A: Minimally invasive spine surgery is a compelling technology that allows us to perform precise surgeries through smaller incisions and still achieve the same surgical goals. The reasons for doing surgery are not changing, but these advancements in technology can mean less pain and faster recovery. The robot’s assistance gives the surgeon improved tools to complete these procedures with high safety and accuracy.

  • A: No. There is a misconception that the robot performs the surgery. Instead, the robot assists the surgeon during the procedure. It helps us link the patient's anatomy to high-resolution imaging like CAT scans to create a roadmap for placing spinal implants. The surgeon is still performing the surgery but has better and more accurate information, which allows them to successfully and safely complete the procedure.

  • A: Bringing robotic spine surgery to The University of Kansas Health System shows the commitment of our institution to being a leader in comprehensive spine care. Surgery may or may not be the appropriate treatment for certain spine conditions. We have specialists in all areas of spine care using the most advanced techniques and technology. Being the first in the region to offer robot-assisted spine surgery continues our mission to offer patients the most advanced treatments available. It truly is a collaborative effort across multiple specialties. By working together, we are able to advance the field of spinal care for all of our patients.

Our patients talk about robot-assisted spine surgery.

Two of the first patients in the region to have spinal surgery with the new ExcelsiusGPS® robot by Globus Medical talk about their surgeries.

Justin Robinson: Two different patients, two different operating rooms, two very different stories.

Chuck Scott: I've had three injections that gave me no relief.

Greg Brown: I think I take 16 pills a day. It's been one, two, four surgeries.

Justin Robinson: These two men who have very different symptoms…

Chuck Scott: On and off pain in my lower back on the left side.

Greg Brown: Probably goes to the hips first, and then my thighs.

Justin Robinson: …are looking for a similar solution. Both are among the first in the region to have spinal surgery with the new ExcelsisGPS® robot by Globus Medical.

Chuck Scott: I'm confident that there has been enough in the way of testing these devices so that I feel very confident that this will be a successful operation.

Justin Robinson: And Chuck is correct. The surgical team went through months of testing, training and dry runs with the robot before using them in surgery.

Chuck Scott: The surgeons for being very open and communicating with me, I think they did a very good job of explaining the procedure and what I would experience.

Justin Robinson: In the end, what both hope to experience is relief and a fast recovery.

Greg Brown: If they get the pain out of my thigh and hips, I'll be extremely happy.

Justin Robinson: The spine robots here at The University of Kansas Health System are the first and only in the state of Kansas and the 14 County region. The spine robots provide improved screw placement accuracy, decrease surgery time, and reduce exposure to radiation combining robotics and navigation much like the GPS in your car.

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