MetroHealth Spine Center
GPS-like Device Makes Spinal Surgery Safer and Faster at MetroHealth
A GPS-like device is changing the way surgeons at MetroHealth approach spine surgery.
The sophisticated machine provides a three-dimensional, perfect view of the spine so surgery is more precise, less invasive and safer overall.
After all, when a screw is placed in the spine, the last thing a doctor or patient wants is any guesswork. Spinal bones where screws are placed sit next to the spinal cord and nerve root. Screws must be placed through narrow channels (pedal bones) without touching the surrounding, delicate anatomy.
Traditional two-dimensional imaging (called fluoroscopy) gives surgeons an X-ray view. But new computer technology generates a 3-D, near-CT scan image of the spine in less than two minutes.
That image is sent into a navigation system in the operating room so surgeons can use any number of tools to perform surgery.
“By looking at the computer screen, I can see anywhere in the spine,” says Michael Steinmetz, MD, director of MetroHealth’s Spine Center.
“It’s like a GPS — it doesn’t tell you where to go, but it provides a 3-D perfect view of the spine and allows us to do minimally invasive surgery in more complex situations,” Dr. Steinmetz says. Surgeons can make tiny, 5-mm incisions in the skin to place spinal screws using the navigation system.
For patients, minimally invasive surgery translates to less pain, quicker recovery and a faster return to daily activities.
“The technology allows us to do spinal surgeries in a much safer way,” Dr. Steinmetz says, adding that the system is not widely available. MetroHealth has acquired this imaging machine and spine surgeons are putting it into practice.