If you have back pain, you’re not alone — it plagues millions of people each year and is one of the top reasons Americans visit their doctor. Some of those with severe back pain may even require spine surgery to relieve the discomfort. In fact, according to an iData Research Report, over 1.6 million spinal procedures, using surgical instruments such as screws, are performed each year.
Fortunately, technological advances have made spinal surgery more efficient, effective, and safe for patients.
Understanding the prevalence of spinal surgery and the need for the best technology, Iredell Health System has acquired Medtronic’s Mazor X Stealth Edition Robotic Guidance Platform. The health system is the first in Iredell County to offer this state-of-the-art technology for spine surgery.
Investing in this new robotic technology is part of a continuous commitment to deliver the highest quality care for patients, ensuring they receive the best treatment possible.
“The hospital has been investing a great deal of effort and money into keeping us at the cutting-edge of patient care. The Mazor X Stealth represents a big advancement in being able to take care of patients more effectively and safely,” said Peter D. Miller, neurosurgeon at Iredell NeuroSpine Center, who utilizes the Mazor X Stealth.
In order to perform surgeries with this new robotic system, Miller had to undergo training workshops in Austin, Texas, and additional training at Iredell.
With precision and accuracy, the Mazor X Stealth Edition Robotic Guidance System assists Miller in the treatment of spinal disease, including degenerative conditions and more complex deformities such as scoliosis.
“The Mazor X Stealth robot is a robotic arm, and it incorporates the ability to image the patient in 3D for more accurate planning and placement of instrumentation,” said Miller.
The Mazor X Stealth Edition Platform allows for planning during the surgery, precise robot guidance, and real-time digital visualization of the patient’s spine during the surgery.
Mazor X Stealth Improves Minimally Invasive Surgery
Miller typically performs minimally invasive surgery, which uses a small incision and allows the muscle to recover more quickly.
“Most surgeons do, what we call, an open procedure, where they make a big incision and strip the muscle off on both sides, so they can better visualize the bones of the spine. This can damage the spinal muscles and takes longer for the muscles to recover following the surgery,” said Miller.
Compared to regular, open surgical procedures, minimally invasive surgery causes much less trauma to the muscles and soft tissues and have less of a chance of infection. This is where the Mazor X Stealth Edition Platform can deliver its greatest benefits. With this new robot, Miller is able to view the patient’s anatomy, even with a small incision, through real-time 3D imaging.
How Does it Work?
Once the patient is placed on the operating table for surgery, the Mazor X Stealth scans the patient and creates a 3D image of the patient’s spine. Miller can then select the region of interest on the 3D image and plan where to put the surgical instrument or screw. He can adjust and manipulate the screw’s position on the image to ensure it will be placed correctly during the procedure.
Following this plan created by Miller, the robotic arm will know exactly where to go and what angle to place the screw.
“What that means is instead of making a big incision and stripping all the muscle off, we can make a small incision on the surface of the skin. The robot goes to exactly the right place, and we are able to put the screw in without having to strip the muscle off,” he said.
Surgeries using the Mazor X Stealth have been shown to minimize blood loss, provide less chance of infection, and decrease a patient’s length of hospital stay, allowing them to get back to living their lives quicker. It also exposes the patient to much lower doses of radiation.
Miller explains that the term “robotic surgery” can come with many misconceptions, but with the Mazor X Stealth, he maintains total control of the robot and instrumentation being used.
“There are several different robots, some where the surgeons do not even touch the patient. This is not that kind of robot,” said Miller. “This is a robotic arm that helps guide me where to go, but I still do all the steps of the operation. For instance, I drill the hole to put the screw in and put the screw in myself. The robot just guides me to the best and safest position. And, because the image is 3D, I can do it from the surface of the skin and not through an x-ray.”
Today, the Mazor X Stealth Edition Robotic Guidance System is only available at a small number of spine/ortho hospitals across the United States. Iredell Health System is proud to be among the first in offering the latest surgical technology to our patients in order to provide enhanced surgical care.
If you would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Peter Miller at Iredell NeuroSpine, please call 704-954-8277. Iredell NeuroSpine has offices in Statesville, Mooresville, and Hickory.
Pictured: Dr. Peter Miller uses Mazor X Stealth for the first time at Iredell Memorial Hospital.