A miniature robot could help surgeons perform operations on patients with serious spine damage.
The SpineAssist robot, which has been granted approval by US medical watchdog the FDA, aims to improve accuracy during complicated back surgery while minimising the risks associated with complex spinal operations.
Such risks include nerve damage which, according to statistics, happens in two to three per cent of such operations.
The technology is the brainchild of Professor Moshe Shoham of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology Mechanical Engineering.
No bigger than a soft drinks can, the machine attaches directly to the patient's body and points surgeons to the exact positioning needed for tools and implants.
This is critical, according to Professor Shoham, since a mistake in placement of even a few millimetres can cause irreversible nerve damage or paralysis.
"SpineAssist minimises the risk of working free hand in sensitive regions of the spine," said Professor Shoham in a statement.
"It conceives a plan for locating the spinal implants, but neither replaces the surgeon nor performs any operations.
"After examining and approving the recommendation, the surgeon inserts surgical instruments through the arm of the robot, thereby minimising the danger of damaging vital organs."
Professor Shoham added that, because of its high level of accuracy, SpineAssist reduces surgery time and speeds recovery.
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