From hour-long surgery to a 5 minute procedure: How robot technology changed spinal operations

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Dr. Nicholas Theodore using the robot technology during surgery. (Supplied)
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Dr. Nicholas Theodore using the robot technology during surgery. (Supplied)
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Dr. Nicholas Theodore using the robot technology during surgery. (Supplied)
Updated 26 June 2018

From hour-long surgery to a 5 minute procedure: How robot technology changed spinal operations

DUBAI: A doctor has revolutionized spinal surgery with the introduction of a robot that can carry out a procedure that previously took an hour in just five minutes.
Dr. Nicholas Theodore, director at the neurosurgical spine center at Johns Hopkins Medicine, has invented an image-guided robot for spine surgery that marries a CT scan of the patient with the actual patient.
And already it has shown its capability, by inserting four screws into a patient’s spine in just five minutes – a procedure that previously took 12-times as long.
“As good as I am or anybody is, nobody’s perfect and the whole issue is: Can we make surgery safer for the patient? Can we make that experience quicker and more accurate?” Dr. Theodore, who is also a professor of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University told Arab News.
Using real-time imaging technology that constantly monitors the patient’s moves, the robot is able to adapt as the patient breathes or changes position slightly, allowing a greater chance of 100 percent accuracy and faster recovery time.
And the use of image-guided robotics helps to reduce the risk of error, such as screws going into the wrong place, which are more likely under more traditional methods Dr. Theodore explained.
“The trend in all of medicine is to improve our outcome and to make things safer, i think robotics is the future of everything we do in surgery,” the doctor said.
According to a 2015 study found in the World Journal of Emergency Surgery on the epidemiology of spinal injuries in the UAE, traffic injuries and falls were the leading causes for spinal injuries in the UAE.
Using modern techniques such as robotics in surgical procedures is costly, but Dr. Theodore insists that the machine will “pay for itself.”
“Now I can do three operations in one day instead of two; the hospital will be profitable in that respect,” the doctor said, adding that “the cost becomes irrelevant when patients are doing better and they’re going home faster.”


Elon Musk to offer $100 million prize for ‘best’ carbon capture technology

Updated 2 min 11 sec ago

Elon Musk to offer $100 million prize for ‘best’ carbon capture technology

  • Capturing planet-warming emissions is becoming a critical part of many plans to keep climate change in check

Tesla chief and billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk on Thursday took to Twitter to promise a $100 million prize for development of the “best” technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions.
Capturing planet-warming emissions is becoming a critical part of many plans to keep climate change in check, but very little progress has been made on the technology to date, with efforts focused on cutting emissions rather than taking carbon out of the air.
The International Energy Agency said late last year that a sharp rise in the deployment of carbon capture technology was needed if countries are to meet net-zero emissions targets.
“Am donating $100M toward a prize for best carbon capture technology,” Musk wrote in a tweet, followed by a second tweet that promised “Details next week.”
Tesla officials did not immediately respond to a request for additional information.
Musk, who co-founded and sold Internet payments company PayPal Holdings Inc, now leads some of the most futuristic companies in the world.
Besides Tesla, he heads rocket company SpaceX and Neuralink, a startup that is developing ultra-high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect the human brain to computers.
Newly-sworn-in US President Joe Biden has pledged to accelerate the development of carbon capture technology as part of his sweeping plan to tackle climate change. On Thursday, he named Jennifer Wilcox, an expert in carbon removal technologies, as the principal deputy assistant secretary for fossil energy at the US Department of Energy.