Robotics

Robotics


Spine surgery often involves placing screws into your spine. For the operation to succeed, it’s vital that these screws are put into exactly the right place.

Traditionally, surgeons have used a series of X-rays taken during the operation to guide screw placement. It works – but it’s not ideal as it exposes both you as the patient and Dr Edis as the back surgeon to potentially harmful radiation. And there’s still a small risk of not quite getting the screw in the right place.

Complex spinal surgery may involve painstakingly placing 18-20 screws in your back. Each one requires its own series of X-rays and demands immense focus from your spine specialist over 4-6 hours in theatre.

Robotic guidance overcomes those problems. That’s why Dr Edis has led research into spinal surgery using robotic guidance systems and why he has been an early adopter of this ground-breaking technology.


The Mazor X Stealth Edition

The recently launched Mazor X Stealth EditionTM by Medtronic is the newest and most advanced robotic guidance system for spinal surgery.

Dr Edis is one of the few back surgeons in Australia with access to this 3rd generation robot.

It’s an amazing piece of technology that can:

  • Reduce the need for X-rays which cause low-level radiation exposure
  • Help plan your operation by taking scans of your body using 3D analytics
  • Enable your surgeon to identify the precise spots to place screws
  • Make surgery less invasive
  • Improve the likelihood of your operation running as planned
  • Show your surgeon what’s happening during the operation
  • Improve the accuracy of screw placement to almost 100% and therefore reduce the need for revision surgery
  • Shorten your operation since screws are placed more quickly, reducing the time spent under anaesthetic
  • Potentially reduce post-operative pain and speed recovery time.
Image source: Medtronic

Watch the robot in action


So, there’s a robot doing my back surgery?

Well, not quite yet (but maybe in the future!).

Do you remember a time before sat navs were common? If you were going somewhere new, you had to drive and navigate at the same time. It took a great deal of concentration to do both tasks well.

Now, your smartphone or your car navigates for you. You set the destination then follow its instructions to get there. The technology frees you up to concentrate on the road, paying attention to speed limits, driving conditions, difficult intersections and other drivers.

Robotic guidance surgery is similar to driving with a sat nav. Your spine specialist, Dr Edis, has planned your surgery and told the robot what to do. Dr Edis then performs the surgery with assistance from the robot’s guidance system.

The robot greatly assists with screw placement, which used to be the longest and most challenging part of spinal surgery. The robot’s reliable accuracy in screw placement means Dr Edis is able to put most of his focus towards strategy and spinal shaping so that you get the best outcome from your surgery.


Our Role in Advancing Robotic Guidance in Spinal Surgery

Dr Edis was a newly qualified doctor in his first job when he was introduced to one of the earliest CT navigation systems then used in knee surgery.

At that point, the technology was in its infancy but its potential was huge. Dr Edis could see how it might revolutionise orthopaedic surgery, sparking his interest in minimally invasive techniques for spinal surgery.

By 2016, the technology was truly impressive. Dr Edis began using a robotic guidance system in his practice in Launceston, Tasmania, leading a research study to investigate how robots could make screw placement easier during spinal surgeries.

Returning to Victoria in 2018, Dr Edis performed groundbreaking surgery using the Mazor Robotic Guidance System at the Mulgrave Private Hospital. His operation was the first in Australia to use the PROlat approach where the patient lies on their side through the whole procedure and the first in the world to combine this with a 3D scanner.

These techniques make spinal surgery shorter, less invasive and more accurate.


What Does the Future Hold?

Technology advances rapidly.

These robots are versatile with many potential uses in the future. Who knows? Maybe they’ll one day have a role beyond guidance. With advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, it’s even possible that the surgeon could operate remotely.

For now, though, you’re in very capable hands at the Victorian Orthopaedic Spine Service.


Dr Edis in the Media

Dr Edis has featured in several press articles about the use of robotic-assisted surgery.

All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion. Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks.