Next step in surgery
GREENWICH — The field of robotics is changing the world of medicine, in every area of the human anatomy.
Inside an operating room at Greenwich Hospital, spinal surgeons have begun working with a new robotic device that assists in surgery, the first like it in the region.
Federal authorities gave approval to the device last year, and it has been in operation in Greenwich for the past few months.
“It decreases time on the table, it decreases blood loss, it increases precision, it’s very useful,” said Dr. Scott Simon, still in his surgical scrubs not long after performing a major operation with the Globus Excelsius GPS.
“It’s the next generation. A lot of gradual improvements coming in,” said Simon. “We’ve been doing computerized navigation for a long time. We’re used to getting pre-operative imaging that we load into a computer system, basically GPS, to allow for accurate placement. This is the next step.”
The robot creates a virtual map and links that to a patient’s anatomy, allowing for precise placement of surgical tools and implants into the spine. The automated functions also enable an entire operation to be scripted out in advance.
“It allows for planning. With the computer, we can plan what instrumentation we can use, the depth of instrumentation, how it’s all going to mesh up. It’s a wonderful planning tool,” the surgeon said.
The mechanism is especially useful for more challenging cases:people who have had surgery before, those who are carrying extra weight or those who have unusual anatomy.
Before the use of the robot, multiple X-rays were often necessary during a procedure.
“This makes that obsolete. We don’t have repeated radiation,” the surgeon explained. “We take one X-ray and we’re done, and we register that to the Globus robot. We know exactly where we are without the need for updating. The robot knows where we are with one picture.”
It is being used for minimally invasive surgery, as well as more complicated procedures. Patients who need surgery are typically coping with curvature of the spine or osteoporosis; others have suffered accidents.
Simon and other surgeons are also working with the manufacturer to make small improvements and add capabilities. “What we’re excited for are the possibilities coming down the pike. Just like your iPhone, you’re always getting upgrades,” he said.
The device is made outside Boston and carries a price tag over $1 million.
Norm Roth, the president of Greenwich Hospital, said it was a good investment.
“It’s something we viewed as important, to improve the welfare and safety of the patients,” said Roth. “And robotic surgery, it’s the next generation.”