Mazor robot at OrthoIndy helps surgeons perform precise operations

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INDIANAPOLIS — One to 5% of all people will have back pain caused by a slipped disc.

The condition is more common in people over 30 and two times as common in men than women. Some patients with this diagnosis recover, some deal with chronic pain, and still others suffer with so much pain that a surgical solution is sought out.

This was the case for Harry Webster, of Carmel. His back injury happened 20 years ago, and he had dealt with the pain until this past December when he sought help from a surgeon at OrthoIndy.

“I reached out to OrthoIndy,” said Webster. “I needed someone to fix my back.”

Spine surgeon Dr. Greg Poulter diagnosed Webster’s problem as slipped vertebrae. Bone was actually slipping on bone. Webster had also suffered damage to his discs. Dr. Poulter recommended he undergo a diffusion of the spine.

The doctor also told Webster about the Mazor robot, which is essentially a guidance platform that combines advanced surgical planning software. Its work is to provide the surgeon with the most precise surgical guidance possible.

“With robotics, it’s all figured out ahead of time,” explained Dr. Poulter. “So there’s a CT scan that’s done before surgery, and we sit down over the weekend and plan out the surgery to the millimeter. The CT scan is loaded onto laptop software on a computer that plans out the surgery.”

Dr. Poulter says the ability to see with so much precision is incredibly helpful. He can make a 1mm movement and see how it impacts the entire construct.

“It gives us the ability to create something ahead of time that’s elegant. We can see how the skin incisions will line up, so we can start planning fewer incisions to get more work done in a smaller area. We can make sure we’re respecting the soft tissue.”

Dr. Poulter actually does the surgery, but the Mazor is his mechanical assistant.

“So I literally have an arm in the O.R. that’s working with me that will go out to that spot. It holds me where I need to be to be accurate to the millimeter,” said Dr. Poulter.

Over 200 patients have had access to the Mazor at OrthoIndy, including Webster.

His outcome has been positive. He spent 24 hours in the hospital post-op and was sent home.

“It literally, without getting emotional about it, pretty much gave me my life back,” Webster expressed. “I am beyond happy. It’s fixed. The last couple of months it’s been a blessing. I can work at my job effectively and efficiently. The pain is just not occupying my mind.”

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