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October 21, 2022

Spinal surgery robot is game changer for IU Health neurosurgeons

IU Health Neuroscience Center

Spinal surgery robot is game changer for IU Health neurosurgeons

Before every spinal surgery, IU Health neurosurgeon Gordon Mao, MD, gut checks the procedure with his right-hand man: The Mazor.

The Mazor is a spinal surgery robot that helps Dr. Mao perform the most complicated of surgeries—from correcting scoliosis to repairing broken spines—with the utmost precision and accuracy.

The robot, which just became operational in July 2022, provides support in two ways: image guidance and screw placement.

IU Health neurosurgeon Gordon Mao, MD

Image guidance is provided through the robot’s built-in, advanced software, which helps Dr. Mao and his team more easily find the exact location, down to a single millimeter, of where the spinal screw needs to be placed during surgery.

“Think of it like a GPS system,” Dr. Mao said. “It guides us inside the body to exactly where we need to go.”

Once it finds the right spot, the team uses the robot to actually insert the screw into the spine.

“Historically, the actual placement of the screws during surgery has been the most challenging part of the procedure,” Dr. Mao said. “But with The Mazor, the chance for error is greatly reduced.”

The end result is that patients benefit from minimally invasive surgery that is safer and less risky than it would be without these technological advances.

“We are the only ones in Indiana who offer this service,” Dr. Mao said. “We are really putting IU Health on the map with The Mazor.”

Although donor dollars did not support the purchase of the robot, Dr. Mao said philanthropy that supports education and training opportunities for him and his team is needed to help the program stay on the cutting edge.

Currently, Dr. Mao is one of only three surgeons in the IU Health system who are trained to use The Mazor.

IU Health neurosurgeon David Stockwell, MD

David Stockwell, MD, who oversees Dr. Mao’s team, agreed. “Funding continuing education opportunities for our surgeons will help us make all the difference for our patients,” he said. ”We will be stronger and more well-equipped to handle even the rarest of cases.”

To support advancements in neurology and neurosurgery across IU Health, please visit the IU Health Foundation website, or contact IU Health Foundation Vice President, Campaigns and Philanthropy, Heather Perdue.

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