Robotic technology is changing the way many neurosurgeons approach minimally invasive spinal procedures. Thanks to robotic-assisted surgery, we can now make incisions and place implants with higher degrees of accuracy, causing less tissue damage, reducing the risk of infection and hastening recovery times. But what conditions can this technology treat? For example, can robotic spine surgery fix slipped discs?
The answer differs person to person, depending on their condition and the determination of their doctor. That said, generally speaking, robotic spine surgery can be used to repair or fix back problems associated with slipped or herniated discs.
Sandwiched between each of the vertebrae along your spine are small, soft discs filled with a gel-like substance. These discs help facilitate easy movement between the vertebrae while also serving as shock absorbers for the spinal column. However, sometimes the outer covering becomes weak or ruptures due to factors ranging from aging to bad posture and injury. When this happens, the gel substance may shift or protrude from the inside, placing pressure on surrounding tissues and nerves. We often refer to this as a “slipped disc” or herniated disc. Symptoms of a slipped disc may include back/spine pain, shooting pain in the arms or legs, numbness, and weakness.
Slipped discs can occur for a number of different reasons. Sometimes excess weight or lifting heavy objects in the wrong manner can put pressure on the spine in unbalanced ways, causing one or more discs to weaken or rupture. Sometimes a slipped disc can occur due to a direct or indirect trauma or injury — for example, the impact of a car crash. And sometimes, slipped discs occur simply as a result of age, wear and tear on the body — typically an outcome of osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease.
If surgery is recommended for a slipped disc, the most common procedure to correct it is a partial or complete discectomy. The surgeon will make a small incision in the back at the injury site, either removing the protruding part of the disc or removing the affected disc entirely. To protect the spine after a discectomy, the surgeon also typically performs a spinal fusion, joining the two affected vertebrae with bone grafts and metal screws to keep the vertebrae from rubbing against each other. With robotic spine surgery, the surgeon can perform these procedures on an outpatient basis with stunning degrees of accuracy — and patients generally recover from the surgery more quickly and with reduced levels of pain compared to conventional surgery.
Polaris Spine and Neurosurgery Center is the first outpatient spine clinic in the Southeast to offer robotic spine surgery with the state-of-the-art ExcelsiusGPS. To learn more about this medical advancement and to see whether robotic spine surgery is a good solution for your slipped disc, call us at 404-256-2633.