from the October 2006 issue

Spinal surgery robot demonstrated in Gwinnett

At Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville, USA, an Israeli company demonstrated its spinal surgery robot to potential customers and students.

Gwinnett Tech was an eager host when Mazor Surgical Technologies, whose U.S. office is in Atlanta, contacted surgical technology program director T.C. Parker to ask if the company could use its facilities for a product demonstration. The company demonstrated for and taught surgeons from as far away as Massachusetts and California as Mazor officials operated on cadavers.  The technology is about 2 years old and is being used in 14 hospitals worldwide, said Yair Peleg, a Mazor customer service and technical support employee.

The cost per unit is $175,000. The product's centerpiece is a small cylindrical robot sheathed in blue plastic. X-ray and CT scan images of the spine are fed into a computer. Using those, doctors determine where they want to drill into the vertebra and insert screws to fuse vertebrae, repair fractures or correct scoliosis.

The SpineAssist robot sits atop a platform that is mounted on the spine. The robot's arm holds a guide tube through which the drill and screws are threaded. The robot adjusts so that the tube and drill insert the screws at the right spot and angle. Considering that mispositioning a screw by no more than 2 millimeters can mean paralysis, precision is paramount. Peleg said the robot helps doctors be accurate to within half a millimeter.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report October 2006

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