Posted in | News | Medical Robotics

Novel Cirq Robotic Arm Ensures Safety and Precision of Spine Surgeries

A novel technology contributed by two MedStar Health hospitals enhances precision and accelerates recovery time for spine surgery patients.

Neurosurgeon Edward Aulisi in the OR. Image Credit: MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

During summer 2020, the MedStar Washington Hospital Center has become the first hospital in the United States to carry out minimally invasive spine surgery by making use of the Cirq® arm.

Cirq is a surgeon-manipulated robotic arm that has been developed to enhance accuracy in navigating difficult spinal surgeries. From that time, it has been utilized in over 50 procedures. MedStar Georgetown University Hospital began to use Cirq in September 2020.

In spinal surgery, accuracy is everything. The Cirq arm is a highly precise piece of equipment that allows surgeons to know with exact confidence where to drill and place necessary hardware required to treat complex spinal conditions. Using this technology is also safer for the patient since it cuts down on operating time, which means the patient is under general anesthesia for shorter periods of time.

Edward Aulisi, MD, Chairman of Neurosurgery, MedStar Washington Hospital Center

The weight of the robotic arm is 22 pounds and it can be mounted directly onto any typical operating room table. Then, the surgeon can manipulate and place the arm, which, once lined up to the intended trajectory, offers a channel for drilling and pedicle screw placement.

The pedicle can be described as a tiny projection of bone that protrudes from the back of a vertebra. Pedicle screws are usually utilized in spinal fusions, together with plates or rods, to provide additional support and length, as well as immobilize a part of the spine by keeping the bony structures together.

Moreover, the latest technology works alongside an intraoperative AIRO CT scanner. Earlier, imaging scans were mandatory for a patient following the surgery. In case there was something wrong, the patient would then have to undergo another surgical procedure.

Now, we can avoid that by immediately correcting any problems we see.

Edward Aulisi, MD, Chairman of Neurosurgery, MedStar Washington Hospital Center

The Cirq arm is a helpful tool in the armamentarium of advanced technologies for screw placement and is a good addition to the robotic spine program in place at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital,” concluded Faheem Sandhu MD, Ph.D., director of Spine Surgery at MedStar Georgetown.

Both Dr. Aulisi and Dr. Sandhu look forward to the use of Cirq for more than 1,000 cases annually at both institutions and plans to use it for cases that involve instrumentation, or implants, like cages, plates, screws, rods, or interbody devices. Both stated that the technology will ultimately be utilized to support brain surgeries.


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