A GPS for The Spine Surgery Video

Spine surgery is one of the most delicate operations. Accuracy is critical, but even in the hands of the most skilled surgeons, screws can be misplaced up to 40% of the time. Doctors are pioneering a new procedure that eliminates the guesswork.
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Melissa: Imagine a global positioning system that works inside the human body. Surgeons say they are now able to achieve the same kind of pinpoint accuracy for back patients. Chantai Adams: Here’s in the bone pinching nerve and it was just killing me. Melissa: 32-year-old Chantai Adams had a spinal fusion to relieve the pain. Doctors used tiny surgical screws and hardware to link a portion of her vertebrae together eliminating any movement. It’s a very common procedure but one that doctors admit is not always perfect. Richard Spiro: In an ideal world where you’re doing day to day surgery, you’re probably—misplacement rate is probably about 10%. Melissa: In very complicated cases, experts say surgical screws can be misplaced up to 40% of the time. Neurosurgeon, Dr. Richard Spiro is pioneering a procedure that guides the screw placement. Doctors take a scan of the spine creating a 3D image. Cameras in the operating room communicate with transmitters on the tips of surgical tools. A computer monitors the movement. Richard Spiro: And then we’re able to place the hardware based on that real-time information just like a GPS gives you when you’re trying to make decisions about to turn right or to turn left. We’re doing the same thing. Melissa: With this system, doctors say they are accurate within 1 mm, meaning fewer complications for patients and for some, a faster recovery helping put patients like Chantai back in the driver seat. I’m Melissa Medley reporting.

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