Surgeons using the Renaissance application and robot for spinal surgery Surgeons using the Renaissance application and robot for spinal surgery Surgeons using the Renaissance application and robot for spinal surgery (Photo: Mazor Robotics)

This robot becomes part of anatomy to save lives

Spinal and brain surgery just became easier for surgeons and patients alike.

A robot that attaches to a patient's anatomy is helping increase success rates of spinal and brain surgeries.

The FDA-approved Renaissance guidance system, developed by Israel's Mazor Robotics, combines the robot with advanced surgical software to give doctors a clearer picture of a patient's anatomy.

The size of a small soda can, the Renaissance robot attaches directly to a patient's anatomy by clamping onto the spine or through special bone anchors. Becoming part of the anatomy gives doctors the advantage they need, especially since spinal surgeries leave very little room for error.

Standard preoperative planning through CT scans has been limited, because changes sometimes occur in a patient’s anatomy just prior to surgery. With Renaissance, doctors can bridge the preoperative data with conditions on the table in the operating room.

Mazor's spinal imageryMazor's spinal imagery. (Photo: Mazor Robotics)

“First off, part of the success of the program is being able to take the preoperative two dimensional CT scan image and turn it into a 3D version so doctors can plan as if they are viewing the anatomy in the operating room," Mazor’s Senior Vice President Christopher Prentice told From The Grapevine. "That way, when walking into the operating room, surgeons are executing something they already actively thought about.”

Prentice added: “The second part of the technology – the robot – guides them during surgery to exactly where they planned to implant, limiting error factors that can occur when doing something freehand or with mental spatial capacity,” he said.

“Renaissance knows what was planned and matches that plan to the intraoperative images,” Prentice said. “Since the robot is attached to the anatomy, the system knows exactly where it is on the anatomy, and knows all the geometric calculations around so it can provide the surgeon with very precise trajectories.” 

Renaissance’s precision means less-invasive spinal surgery, which usually means a shorter stay for patients in the hospital and an easier recovery.

Spinal surgery using RenaissanceSpinal surgery using Renaissance. (Photo: Mazor Robotics)

An estimated 250,000 Americans live with spinal issues, and 20,000 new spinal injuries occur each year. Of those that require surgery, most fall into three main categories: Degenerative cases such as regular wear and tear in people past age 40, trauma cases related to events such as motor vehicle accidents or sports injuries, and deformities.   

Effects of degenerative conditions and spinal trauma may include discs popping out or disintegrating. Both situations can result in bones touching or growing together, causing pain and requiring reconstructive surgery. Deformities can occur in any age group at any time in life and usually can’t be corrected without surgery.

The Renaissance® guidance systemThe Renaissance robotic guidance system. (Photo: Mazor Robotics)

The Renaissance system has been used in tens of thousands of spinal procedures. But since many spinal surgeons using the system are also neurosurgeons, Mazor sought to develop another application of the robot for use in brain surgery. 

Earlier this year, the company released its neurosurgical brain application for surgeries related to deep brain stimulation (DBS), Parkinson’s disease or tremors unrelated to Parkinson’s. 

In a pre-launch of the application, the first brain surgery using the robot took place at Littleton Adventist Hospital in Littleton, Colo., on a 65-year-old patient who had recently experienced tremors associated with Parkinson’s. The cranial application had its official launch in April at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) and is nearing 100 uses.

Learn more about Mazor's software and robot in this video below:

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