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In world first, Jerusalem surgeon uses augmented reality, robot tech in spinal procedure

The doctor compared the experience to that of a combat pilot equipped with an advanced helmet.

Dr. Cezar J. Mizrahi combines augmented reality and robotic technology to operate on a patient with a complex spinal fracture. Credit: Shaare Zedek Medical Center.
Dr. Cezar J. Mizrahi combines augmented reality and robotic technology to operate on a patient with a complex spinal fracture. Credit: Shaare Zedek Medical Center.

In a world first, doctors at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center successfully combined cutting-edge augmented reality and robotic technology in a complex spinal operation.

Dr. Cezar J. Mizrahi, a spine neurosurgeon, led the surgical team in utilizing this innovative approach to address an unstable spinal fracture.

The 25-year-old patient had suffered a severe spinal injury in a workplace accident. Mizrahi was called in when the patient was diagnosed with an unstable spine fracture, which endangered his mobility and neurological well-being.

Brazilian oleh Mizrahi, an expert from the hospital’s Spine Surgery Unit within the Department of Neurosurgery, opted for a novel approach. The surgery involved the use of an AR-assisted surgical spine robot, which provided real-time guidance for the precise insertion of surgical screws along the spinal column. This technique, never before attempted anywhere in the world, enhanced the surgical team’s accuracy while minimizing invasiveness.

AR blends digital information, such as computer-generated images, videos, sounds or other data, with the user’s view of the real world. Unlike virtual reality (VR), which immerses users in a completely virtual environment, AR enhances the real world by overlaying digital elements onto it. This is achieved through various devices, including smartphones, tablets and smart glasses.

For Mizrahi, it meant wearing a special headset. The doctor compared the experience to that of a combat pilot equipped with an advanced helmet.

The AR headset displayed crucial patient information, including CT images, directly in the surgeon’s field of view. This information allowed Mizrahi to strategize and execute the surgical plan with extreme precision, making necessary adjustments as the procedure unfolded.

“Bringing together AR and robotics in this minimally invasive technique had never been performed in surgery anywhere in the world. To our great joy, this combination of those new innovations was to the direct benefit of this patient and the overall healthcare improvement for the people of Jerusalem and beyond,” Mizrahi said.

Shaare Zedek said the patient was able to walk without assistance immediately after the operation and is expected to be released in the coming days.

“The procedure went successfully, and we are so thankful for Dr. Mizrahi’s treatment,” the patient said. “Before the surgery, we were very worried and didn’t know what would happen, but it was performed quickly and successfully and I’ve recovered faster than expected. I can walk now. Dr. Mizrahi regularly comes to check on me and from the bottom of my heart I’m just so grateful.”

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