Surgical Robot Developed in Switzerland to Ensure Safe and Precise Spinal Operations


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University of Bern, Swiss Hospital Inselspital, and microelectronics company Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology have worked together to develop a surgical robot that is sensor-enhanced -- one that can ensure safe and precise spinal operations.

Funded by Switzerland's Commission for Technology and Innovation and the Swiss National Science Foundation, the project aims to provide a higher level of safety when it comes to difficult spinal operations. 

The team of researchers shared that one of the most prevalent back surgeries before were manual spine stabilization. This kind of operation presents a challenge using pedicle screws to stabilize and fuse the vertebrae that are functionally unstable. They also described that considering the composition of bone density and the complex shape of the vertebrae, it presents a challenge to drill and position a screw into the spine. 

With their new project, though, they have introduced a robotic technology that will provide a next generation kind of neurosurgical interventions. Andreas Raabe, a part of the team from Inselspital’s Department of Neurosurgery, said that “for the first time the neurosurgeon has real-time data on where the drilling instrument is during the procedure.” Raabe adds that there is a robot that acts with a supreme level of accuracy in shutting down the drill, far quicker than a human operator is capable of. 

Raabe also said that their team considers the technology as what spine surgery looks like in the future.