Cirq Robotic Arm Enhances Spine Surgeries and Increases Precision

MedStar Washington Hospital Center is First in the U.S. to Use Cirq Technology

October 13, 2020

Washington, D.C. – Two MedStar Health hospitals are now offering an innovative technology that improves accuracy and speeds recovery time for patients who undergo spine surgery.

This summer, MedStar Washington Hospital Center became the first hospital in the United States to perform minimally invasive spine surgery using the Cirq® arm. Cirq is a surgeon-controlled robotic arm, designed to increase precision in navigating complex spinal surgeries. Since then, it has been used in more than 50 procedures. MedStar Georgetown University Hospital started using the Cirq in September.

Dr. Edward Aulisi holding the Cirq robotic arm“In spinal surgery, accuracy is everything. The Cirq arm is a highly precise piece of equipment that allows surgeons to know with exact confidence where to drill and place necessary hardware required to treat complex spinal conditions,” said Edward Aulisi, MD, chairman of Neurosurgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “Using this technology is also safer for the patient since it cuts down on operating time, which means the patient is under general anesthesia for shorter periods of time.”

The robotic arm weighs 22 pounds and mounts directly onto any standard operating room table. The surgeon can then control and position the arm, which, once aligned to the planned trajectory, provides a channel for drilling and pedicle screw placement. The pedicle is a short projection of bone that comes off the back of a vertebra. Pedicle screws are often used in spinal fusions, along with rods or plates, to add extra support and length, and immobilize part of the spine by holding bony structures together.

The novel technology also works in tandem with an intraoperative AIRO CT scanner. Previously, a patient would have imaging scans done after the surgery was finished. If something wasn’t right, they would then need to undergo a second surgical procedure. “Now, we can avoid that by immediately correcting any problems we see,” added Dr. Aulisi.

“The Cirq arm is a helpful tool in the armamentarium of advanced technologies for screw placement and is a good addition to the robotic spine program in place at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital,” concluded Faheem Sandhu MD, PhD, director of Spine Surgery at MedStar Georgetown.

Both Dr. Aulisi and Dr. Sandhu envision using the Cirq for upwards of 1,000 cases a year at both institutions and plans to use it for cases that involves instrumentation, or implants, such as rods, screws, plates, cages, or interbody devices. Both added the technology will eventually be used to assist with brain surgeries.                                                                     

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About MedStar Washington Hospital Center:
MedStar Washington Hospital Center is a 912-bed, major teaching and research hospital. It is the largest private, not-for-profit hospital in the nation’s capital, among the 100 largest hospitals in the nation and a major referral center for treating the most complex cases. Its cardiology program is highly acclaimed and its cardiac surgery program has consistently earned the highest national rating–three stars–from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. The Hospital Center operates the Washington region’s first Comprehensive Stroke Center and the District’s only Cardiac Ventricular Assist Device program, both certified by The Joint Commission. The hospital is also home to MedSTAR, a nationally verified level I trauma center with a state-of-the-art fleet of helicopters and ambulances, and also operates the region’s only adult Burn Center.

About MedStar Georgetown University Hospital:
MedStar Georgetown University Hospital is a not-for-profit, acute-care teaching and research hospital licensed for 609 beds located in Northwest Washington, D.C. Founded in the Jesuit principle of cura personalis, caring for the whole person, MedStar Georgetown is committed to offering a variety of innovative diagnostic and treatment options within a trusting and compassionate environment.  MedStar Georgetown’s centers of excellence include neurosciences, transplant, cancer and gastroenterology. Along with Magnet® nurses, internationally recognized physicians, advanced research and cutting-edge technologies, MedStar Georgetown’s healthcare professionals have a reputation for medical excellence and leadership.

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So Young Pak
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