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Jerusalem hospital performs world’s first spinal surgery using augmented reality robot

AR technology allows for surgical precision

Dr. Cezar Mizrahi in an AR surgery at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center. (Photo: Shaare Zedek Medical Center)

Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem saved a young man by performing the world’s first spinal surgery with the help of robot using augmented reality (AR) imaging of the fractured spine.

The 25-year-old was hurried to the emergency room after he suffered a complicated spinal fracture from a fall in his workplace.

After arriving at the hospital, the team diagnosed him with an unstable spine fracture and said he was at immediate risk for paralysis and severe neurological damage.

Dr. Cezar Mizrahi, a neurosurgeon at the hospital’s spine surgery department, suggested the team treat the patient with the help of a recent technological advancement: Using a combination of robotics and AR imaging.

“Bringing together AR and robotics in this minimally invasive technique had never been performed in surgery anywhere in the world,” Mizrahi said following the successful procedure.

“To our great joy, this combination of those new innovations was to the direct benefit of this patient and the overall healthcare improvement for the people of Jerusalem and beyond.”

The doctors who performed the procedure used an AR helmet to guide them through the complex operation. The helmet overlayed their field of vision with digital content, such as an exact plan for the surgery, allowing them to insert the screws in their exact place with the help of robotics, while having the patient’s vital information directly accessible.

"The experience of performing surgery equipped with an AR headset felt like being a combat pilot,” Mizrahi said, describing the interactive experience.

“I had all the patient’s vital information, including the CT images, displayed directly in front of me. I could look one way and see the lineup of the surgical screws that I had planned out before the procedure and then look down and see the surgical field magnified. The experience helped me perform the procedure exactly as I planned it, and only make adjustments that I might have felt necessary as the surgery developed.”

The director of the spine surgery unit, Dr. Yair Barzilai, commented: “We were very glad to see the excellent results after this surgery performed by Dr. Mizrahi, where he was able to address an unstable fracture that without successful intervention could have seen the patient suffering from severe neurological damage.”

Following the surgery, the patient reportedly said he was already feeling better and was able to walk without assistance. He is expected to be released from the hospital in several days.

“We are so thankful for Dr. Mizrahi’s treatment. Before the surgery, we were very worried and didn’t know what would be, but it was performed quickly and successfully, and I’ve recovered faster than expected," the young man said.

"Dr. Mizrahi regularly comes to check on me and from the bottom of my heart, I’m just so grateful,” he added.

The Jewish state has been making progress in the field of spinal injuries.

Last month Israeli biopharmaceutical company NurExone Biologic was awarded a U.S. patent in May to protect its ExoPTEN technology, used to treat traumatic spinal cord injuries.  

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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