The Spine Robot

Program Goal

To provide patients with the most advanced care possible and increase patient safety.


St. Mary’s has operated the longest-standing continually-operating spine center in the western United States, where our expert surgeons provide specialized spine surgical services.

Our Center’s surgeons have been leading the development of spine surgery in San Francisco for years, including nationally recognized spine surgeons, Drs. Dimitriy Kondrashov, Ken Hsu, and James Zucherman. Drs. Hsu and Zucherman are the inventors who developed X-Stop, an implant which offers relief to patients with spinal stenosis, and received FDA approval in 2005. Each of our spine surgeons are actively involved in research, and through our Center we offer other innovative procedures, including artificial disc replacement and motion preservation devices that stabilize a diseased section of the spine without fusion.

The New Spine Robot

The new Spine Robot will help our team increase patient safety and improve surgery outcomes. Nationwide, an operation such as stapling pedicle screws by hand has a success rate in the low 80s. When using the Spine Robot, the nationwide success rate has climbed to 98%. Other advantages include reduced exposure to radiation, lower clinical complication rates, lower blood loss, reduced pain and anesthesia, faster recovery time and smaller incisions.

In keeping with St. Mary’s longstanding practice and commitment to “leading the way” in spine care and treatment; our spine surgeons have requested that St. Mary’s support the continuing growth of our spine program by acquiring the most advanced technology to support lumbar and thoracic spine fusion surgery‚ÄĒintroducing computer-generated guidance and robotics to our spine program.

The navigation system (miniature robot) is approximately the size of a soda can, and is situated on the top of a computerized workstation. It guides a rigid arm/attachment to the patient during surgery, and is designed to support the accurate placement of implants, e.g., pedicle screws or positioning of surgical tools during spine surgery.

Performance of the actual surgery is done by the surgeon and the robot is used to provide surgical tool guidance. The system consists of 2 units: a miniature cylindrically shaped robot, and a workstation that runs software that enables the surgeon to map the surgery and practice before the actual operation.

This type of device is fast becoming the standard of care for spine surgery centers of excellence, and we have a “window of opportunity” to be the first spine program in San Francisco to implement such a computer-guided system. In addition to improved outcomes, the Spine Robot is expected to increase surgeries at St. Mary’s.

$ 800,000 - Total Need
$ 400,000 - Investment by St. Mary’s Medical Center
$ 400,000 - Requested Support from the Community
$   30,000 - Fundraising remaining




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