Robot Fixates Vertebra

by Denise Hoogland, Saturday, 28 December 2013

After hernias, displaced vertebrae are among the most common causes of chronic backache.

Vertebrae may get displaced due to events such as fractures, but more often, the displacement is caused by degeneration.

Techniques

There are several techniques that can be used to fixate displaced vertebrae. Such operations, which are officially called spondylodeses, are performed over 1,300 times a year in the Netherlands. For the last few years they have involved robot technology, too.

Dr Schröder, a neurosurgeon at Bergman Clinics’ Back and Neck Centre in Naarden, was the first European surgeon to use the technology and has by now performed his 100th operation using it. ‘Thanks to the assistance provided by the robot, neurosurgeons can now carry out these operations much more safely and more precisely, while simultaneously causing less tissue damage. Patients are operated on through tiny incisions. The robot not only fills the patient with confidence, but also the doctor, because the entire operation will have been virtually prepared beforehand. Incidentally, I keep checking the robot’s work during the procedure, just like a jet pilot will keep his eyes open when flying on auto-pilot.’

According to Schröder, people are very interested in this robot technology. ‘In addition to great precision, the main advantage is that there is less tissue damage, meaning patients are up and running again sooner.’

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