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A New Development in Spine Surgery

Living with the effects of spinal tumors or deformities can make seemingly simple daily activities unbearable. However, a new surgical advancement is enabling physicians at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano’s Scoliosis & Spine Tumor Center to offer patients even better care.

The new SpineAssist® surgical robot, now available at Texas Health Plano, is one of only three of its kind in the country and can be used to perform biopsies and treat thoracic-lumbar fusion, vertebral compression fractures and scoliosis. SpineAssist® is the only robotic technology available designed specifically to operate on the spine.

The SpineAssist® system consists of a workstation where surgeons use a three-dimensional
computed tomography-based simulation of the spine to plan procedures before they take place, as well as a robotic arm that the surgeon uses to complete surgeries with extreme accuracy.

“Like a pilot in a flight simulator, I can map out the patient’s spinal anatomy and plan the entire procedure before the patient even arrives for surgery,” says Isador Lieberman, M.D., M.B.A., F.R.C.S.C., orthopedic and spine surgeon, medical director of Texas Health Plano’s Scoliosis & Spine Tumor Center and co-developer of the SpineAssist System. “It allows me to be more efficient and precise and to anticipate potential complications before they occur.”

During SpineAssist® procedures, the surgeon guides the robotic arm to the surgical site and completes the operation through small incisions based on the plan created prior to surgery. Spine Assist® procedures generally are minimally invasive.

Benefits of the SpineAssist® system to patients include:

• Fewer complications

• Less radiation exposure during surgery

• Lower risk of infection

• Quicker recovery

• Shorter hospital stay

“Key to what we do are patient safety and optimizing outcomes,” Dr. Lieberman says. “That’s what this new technology is all about.”

The Scoliosis & Spine Tumor Center offers treatment for the following spinal conditions:

• Kyphosis: A condition in which the spine becomes bowed, leading to slouching posture or the appearance of a “hunchback.”

• Scoliosis: A condition involving abnormal curvature of the spine, most commonly in a “C” or “S” shape.

• Spondylolisthesis: A condition in which a vertebra in the lower portion of the spine moves forward and touches the bone beneath it.

• Spinal tumors: Benign or malignant tumors that sometimes spread through arteries, veins, the lymphatic system and directly. Malignant tumors of the breast, prostate, lung and kidney can spread into the spine. Spinal tumors can be dangerous when they cause spinal canal compression, which may lead to neurologic dysfunction (paralysis).

Following evaluation and diagnosis, physicians and staff at the Scoliosis & Spine Tumor Center at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano tailor treatment plans to meet each patient’s unique needs. While some spinal problems can be effectively resolved with noninvasive treatment methods such as bracing or anti-inflammatory medications, others
may require surgical intervention.

“Our goal is to deliver less invasive treatments that help us minimize collateral tissue damage,” Dr. Lieberman says. “By providing minimally invasive treatment options, we’re able to effectively accomplish this mission.”

To learn more about the Scoliosis & Spine Tumor Center at Texas Health Plano, call 1-877-500-5454 or visit

(Fall/Winter 2010)

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