Spine surgery is complex and involves various steps. Current robotic technology is mostly aimed at assisting with pedicle screw insertion. This report evaluates the feasibility of robot-assisted pedicle instrumentation in an academic environment with the involvement of residents and fellows.
The Renaissance Guidance System was used to plan and execute pedicle screw placement in open and percutaneous consecutive cases performed in the period of December 2015 to December 2016. The database was reviewed to assess the usability of the robot by neurosurgical trainees. Outcome measures included time per screw, fluoroscopy time, breached screws, and other complications. Screw placement was assessed in patients with postoperative CT studies. The speed of screw placement and fluoroscopy time were collected at the time of surgery by personnel affiliated with the robot’s manufacturer. Complication and imaging data were reviewed retrospectively.
A total of 306 pedicle screws were inserted in 30 patients with robot guidance. The average time for junior residents was 4.4 min/screw and for senior residents and fellows, 4.02 min/screw (p = 0.61). Among the residents dedicated to spine surgery, the average speed was 3.84 min/screw, while nondedicated residents took 4.5 min/screw (p = 0.41). Evaluation of breached screws revealed some of the pitfalls in using the robot.
No significant difference regarding the speed of pedicle instrumentation was detected between the operators’ years of experience or dedication to spine surgery, although more participants are required to investigate this completely. On the other hand, there was a trend toward improved efficiency with more cases performed. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first reported academic experience with robot-assisted spine instrumentation.