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St. Joseph's hospital debuts new GPS-guided spine surgery robot

Posted at 6:58 AM, Dec 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-19 09:14:36-05

TUCSON, Ariz. - There is a new GPS-guided spine surgery robot inside of a St. Joseph's surgery room. It's purpose is to help surgeons with accuracy when they're doing surgeries.

"On a computer screen we can tell the robot exactly where we want to put the screws," said Dr. Matthew Wilson, who's used the robot close to nine times now.

The new robot is the first of its kind at St. Joseph's Hospital.

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Surgeons can use it for an array of spine surgeries that could improve back pain, and even neck pain that can lead to ones back.

"I think most commonly it is either back pain with varying amounts of pain that go into the legs or neck pain with varying amounts of pain that go into the arms. So spinal stenosis, low back pain, hurneated disks, and in the neck similar problems, obviously in a different part of the body," said Dr. Wilson.

While the robot helps surgeons with accuracy, it doesn't do all of the work. Surgeons will program where exactly they want a screw or a piece of hardware placed into a patients spine. Once the robot leads surgeons to the spot, the surgeon takes over.

The surgeon will do the actual placing of the screw or hardware.

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Dr. Wilson said the robot helps surgeons focus and not have to worry about a patients tissue or blood.

"It's just very helpful to be able to look at an isolated piece of the spine and be able to say, I want a screw here I want a screw there," said Dr. Wilson.

Dr. Wilson added one of the best parts of the robot is that it is adaptable. He said they expect to be able to do cranial surgeries with the robot in the future.