Robot assistants will let patients go home earlier after their spinal surgery
A robot is now helping surgeons to carry out spinal operations, with fewer incisions allowing patients to have a quicker recovery.
Joseph Butler, an orthopaedic surgeon in the Mater Private hospital in Dublin, said the robot-assisted surgery was being used in both routine and complex spinal operations.
"Robot-assisted surgery is a new emerging area that will become the standard of care in the years ahead," he said.
It works by providing 3D visualisation and navigation features which enable surgeons to be precise about the placement of spinal screws.
It can reduce the patient's blood loss and muscle damage during surgery.
The hospital is the first in Ireland to use robot-assisted spine surgery and is one of four centres in Europe employing the ExcelsiusGPS machine.
Mr Butler said the "potential for robotic spine surgery to enhance the lives of patients by delivering more accurate surgery and faster rehabilitation is a key consideration in bringing this technology to the hospital.
"The team has been undergoing extensive training in the United States over recent months to prepare for the robot's introduction to the hospital's spinal surgery offering."
The aim is to use it in one third of spinal surgeries at the hospital annually.
"The technology, much like the GPS devices we use every day, supports surgeons in their work by ensuring greater surgical precision and bringing even greater accuracy to procedures such as spinal surgery," said Mr Butler.
"Most patients contemplating surgery, naturally, want to know when they will be able to resume their usual daily activities.
"With this robot, we can offer patients requiring both routine and complex spinal fusion surgeries a solution that allows them to recover and get back to their daily life much quicker, with less post-operative pain."