Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Using Robotic Guidance

Robotic guided spine surgery, sometimes called robotic assisted spine surgery, is a type of minimally invasive spine surgery. It is a relatively new way to perform spine surgery that first became available in the United States in 2004. It did not see significant use until 2011.

The Denver spine surgeons at NeurosurgeryOne(formerly South Denver Neurosurgery) use the Mazor Robotics Renaissance Guided System to perform robotic guided spine surgery. There are other types of surgical robots available, including the da Vinci Robotic System.  According to Mazor Robotics, more than 245,000 implants and approximately 36,000 cases have been performed using Mazor Robotics technology.


What conditions can robotic guided spine surgery treat?

Robotic guided spine surgery offers unparalleled precision and helps achieve better accuracy and minimize recovery time for back pain patients.  Robotic guided spine surgery has been used in thousands of spine procedures worldwide ranging from minimally invasive spine surgery for degenerative disc disease to open spine surgery for scoliosis and other complex spinal deformity cases. Robotic guided spine surgery can be used to treat the following conditions:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Herniated discs
  • Kyphosis (also known as rounded back or hunchback)
  • Osteoporosis compression fractures
  • Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal deformities
  • Spinal tumors
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Traumatic spine injuries


How is robotic guided spine surgery performed?

Robotic-guided spine surgery uses imaging and 3-D analytic software to map the patient’s body which NeurosurgeryOne spine surgeons then use to create a detailed surgical plan before stepping into the operating room. It helps your Denver spine surgeon know exactly where to make incisions and precisely where to insert instruments. This results in smaller incisions that damage less tissue. The Mazor robot provides real-time guidance throughout the procedure, allowing the surgeon to accurately navigate to and around the surgical site with superior accuracy, particularly if a patient’s anatomy shifts during surgery.


Who is a candidate for robotic guided spine surgery?

Not every spine problem can be treated with a minimally invasive surgical approach. For example, patients with certain types of spinal defects and patients who have several levels of spinal stenosis may not be candidates for minimally invasive spine surgery, in which case traditional, or open, spine surgery will be recommended. Your Denver spine surgeon at NeurosurgeryOne is your best resource for information on whether you are a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery or robotic guided spine surgery. He will take many factors into account when determining the best surgical approach for your spine condition.


Benefits of robotic guided spine surgery

Spine surgery precision and implant accuracy are improved through use of robotic guided spine surgery. These benefits often mean smaller incisions and quicker recovery for patients, plus possible benefits in long-term outcomes. In a study of 112 cases of spine surgeons using the Mazor robotics system, compared to freehand surgery, Mazor Robotics technology resulted in:

  • Improved implant accuracy
  • May have reduced fluoroscopy (56 percent reduction in this clinical case series)
  • Reduced complication rates, re-operations, and postop opioid use
  • Reduced average length of stay in the hospital

And, according to a study of 1,985 elective cases analyzed over a 1-year period published in Neurospine, application of robotic spine surgery resulted in lesser revision surgery, lower infection rates, reduced length of stay, and shorter operative time.


Risks of robotic guided spine surgery

The risks of robotic spine surgery are similar to the risks of traditional or open spine surgery and minimally invasive spine surgery, including:

  • Localized infection (even though the incision area is smaller than with traditional surgery)
  • Unexpected blood loss during surgery
  • Complications from anesthesia
  • Blood clots after surgery
  • A small chance that the surgical procedure cannot be completed, meaning that traditional open surgery or a second surgery may be required