GLOVERSVILLE - Nathan Littauer Hospital announced Friday it is performing robotics-assisted spinal surgeries thanks to new equipment and the talents of a surgeon, Dr. Jian Shen.
At a news conference Friday, Laurence E. Kelly, president and CEO of Nathan Littauer Hospital, said multiple robot-assisted spinal surgeries have been performed at the hospital since the first one was done in?July.
One patient, Sarah White, 27, of Saratoga County had surgery Aug. 6 to repair damage to her spine from a June 2012 car accident.
Dr. Jian Shen, an orthopedic surgeon, looks on as spine surgery
patient and Saratoga County resident Sarah White speaks about her surgery during a news conference Friday at Nathan?Littauer Hospital in Gloversville.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
White suffered two fractures in her spine, near the lower back. White said prior to the surgery, she went through physical therapy, which worked for a time. She was forced to take painkillers to manage the pain until a doctor suggested she speak with Shen about possibly having surgery.
Since the operation, White has gone back to work and is living a healthy life.
"It is amazing. I can do a lot more than I could six weeks ago, and I'm back to work [since Monday,]" White said. "I can get through the workday with no problems. I'm going for walks again, I'm going to start exercising again; it's [had] a big effect."
Shen, an orthopedic surgeon at both Nathan Littauer and St. Mary's Healthcare in Amsterdam, was happy to see the program be instituted at Nathan Littauer.
"This is very exciting technology," Shen said.
The Renaissance robotic spine surgery guidance system, which was acquired by both hospitals recently, allows for precise and minimally invasive surgery.
Before entering the operating room, surgeons can use Renaissance to actually pre-plan the most optimal surgery on a 3D simulation of the patient's spine.
During surgery, the system guides the surgeon's hands and tools to the precise, pre-planned locations along the spine.
Potential benefits for patients include reduced blood loss, fewer complications, fewer revisions, faster recovery, reduced procedure time and reduced exposure to radiation.
With less tissue damage done during the operation, it allows for quicker recovery time than surgery by hand.
So far, Shen said, there have been no infections from this program.
"So far, we have [had] success after success," Shen said.
U.S. Rep. Bill Owens said in a statement this program could bring investment to the local community.
"For well over a century, residents of Fulton County have relied upon Nathan Littauer for patient-centric care, and today's announcement clearly demonstrates that focus leading into the future," Owens said in the statement Friday.
Jerri Cortese, spokeswoman for St. Mary's Healthcare, said the first robotics-assisted spinal surgery at St. Mary's Hospital was performed July 31.
Cortese said the main benefit of the program for patients is not the technology, but the surgeon behind the machine.
"It is still Dr. Shen," Cortese said. "Even without the robot, he is an exceptional spinal surgeon."