Barrow Redefines Spine Surgery With New Surgical Robot

Barrow Neurological Institute has revolutionized the way surgery is performed on the spine. The Institute has developed a first-of-its-kind robot to perform back surgeries. Called the Globus Medical ExcelsiusGPS, the new robot was created by Barrow neurosurgeons and is currently being used in hospitals throughout the country including at both Barrow and Johns Hopkins. Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August, the technology is expected to become the future surgical method for spine surgery.

photo of phoenix neurosurgeon Steve Chang
Steve Chang, MD
Barrow Neurosurgeon

Currently used to perform spinal fusions, the robotic technology provides patients with less-invasive and more precise surgery with a significant reduction in recovery time. It utilizes navigation and 3D technology to help surgeons pre-map their surgeries and encompasses a robotic arm to precisely place implants into a patient’s spine. The minimally invasive technique permits the surgeon to separate the muscles surrounding the spine rather than cutting through them resulting in smaller incisions and less tissue damage.

“This technology is a game changer in the field of spine surgery,” says Steve Chang, MD, a neurosurgeon who specializes in the treatment of the spine at Barrow. “It’s the very first robotic spine procedure that uses navigation technology, imaging, and robotics, providing endless benefits to our patients.”

Before this technology was developed, many treatments of the spine required invasive surgeries with larger incisions resulting in longer recovery times for patients. This new sophisticated technology is so precise, it enables the surgeon to make a very small incision that often only requires a few stitches, eliminating significant risks of open surgery.

“Barrow has long been a pioneer in the advancement of the neurosciences, and the development of this robot is one of those ways in which we are modernizing medicine to help patients from around the world receive optimal results,” says Dr. Chang.

For patient Richard Paulsen, undergoing spine fusion surgery from the Barrow-created robot, was an easy decision. The 59-year-old contractor from Lake Havasu, Arizona, suffered a heart attack two years ago and was seeking a minimally invasive treatment which would result in a shorter surgery and less time under anesthesia in addition to eradicating his back pain. He consulted with various surgeons in Arizona and Nevada.

“When I met with Dr. Chang at Barrow and I learned that this new robotic surgery would not only be more precise and eliminate my pain but that it also would greatly reduce surgical risk and shorten my recovery time, I was convinced this was the right path for me,” says Paulsen. “In all honesty, it’s amazing that a robot repaired my back.”

Fox 10 Phoenix: Robotic technology helping with spinal surgeries at Phoenix hospital