Henry Ford installs Modus V robotic arm for cranial and spinal surgery

por John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | April 27, 2018
Operating Room
Henry Ford Hospital has installed
the first Modus V robotic arm
in Michigan
A technology previously used in space has touched down in Michigan at Henry Ford Hospital to assist in brain and spinal surgery.

The Detroit-based provider is the first in the Great Lake state to implement Synaptive Medical Inc.’s Modus V robotic arm, enabling surgeons to avoid critical brain and spinal cord structures. The solution was formerly used by the International Space Station to position astronauts, repair satellites and move cargo.

“The teams that assembled and now maintain the space station needed a way to move these giant, yet, extremely delicate pieces of satellite and other equipment in a calculated, precise way,” Steven N. Kalkanis, chair of the department of neurosurgery and medical director at Henry Ford Cancer Institute, told HCB News. “If you think about it, we have a very similar need – a way to accurately and safely maneuver in and around the delicate parts of the brain and spine, while preserving healthy tissue. In essence, this technology provides the same kind of support; it enhances what the astronauts are doing and it enhances what we are doing.”

The second generation of Modus V was released in October 2017 and was recently installed for the first time in Pennsylvania at Allegheny Health Network for spinal and cranial procedures. AHN neurosurgeons are currently working with Synaptive to develop new solutions and advanced robotic neurosurgical applications for the next generation.

Using one hand, a surgeon can smoothly and precisely move the arm, positioning it in angles not possible before that allow him or her to remain in a safe, standing position during surgery.

Consisting of a digital microscope that combines a high-powered microscope and a high-definition exoscope, the arm provides unprecedented views and a greater field of depth of a patient’s anatomy, allowing the surgeon to perform less invasive and more precise procedures.

The solution can be used in conjunction with Synaptive’s BrightMatter Plan and Guide which creates colorful, 3D representations of brain tracks for each individual patient through Diffusion Tensor Imaging, for planning and navigating advanced cranial surgery for aneurysms, vascular lesions, and skull-based procedures. Modus V can be used for minimally-invasive spinal surgery.

Kalkanis says the greater views of the arm enable more complete and safer resections to take place, with patients experiencing faster recovery times, fewer complications and less post-operative pain.

“The Modus V and BrightMatter platform allow us to perform complex tumor resections and advanced cranial and spinal surgeries in some of our most complex patients, those with multiple chronic conditions and other risk factors that would have made these surgeries too risky even a few years ago," he said. "We are seeing fewer complications, less post-operative pain and a shorter recovery time, all of which continue to add unprecedented value to the care we're providing.”

Both Modus V and Henry Ford Hospital are featured in a video documentary produced by NASA, “Benefits for Humanity: From Space to Surgery,” which elaborates on the adaptation of space technology for healthcare.

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