A few months ago, S4L wrote about the world’s first vertebra transplant. An exceptional event that brought spinal surgery a step forward. It could only be performed at a center of excellence like the Rizzoli Hospital in Bologna, Italy.

Fortunately, it’s not the only one in Italy to excel in orthopedics and its applications. The Humanitas Hospital in Milan is a worthy example of excellence, also thanks to its very high level technology.

The extremely precise O-Arm2 technology

The O-Arm system, produced by a well-known international company, was first adopted by the Humanitas Hospital, at the Neurological Center. The technology on which this system is based, allows for the acquisition (in the operating room, during surgery), of images of the area to be treated similarly to that of a CT scan. Then, the image is reconstructed in 3D, and with a very high resolution and at a reduced exposure to x-rays for the affected patient.

The images thus acquired are quite similar to MRI diagnostic images and transferred to a neuro-navigation system, so that the surgeon can monitor in real-time the procedure they’re performing and verify, for example, the trajectory of the screws to be implanted — and therefore use their scalpel extremely precisely.

What are the advantages for the patient?

First of all, it’s a minimally-invasive procedure, so complications are minimized and patient safety is therefore increased. In addition, the patient is much less exposed to x-rays, the surgical time of the operation is greatly reduced, blood loss is reduced, and consequently rehabilitation times are accelerated.

For which pathologies can O-Arm2 be used?

The use of this minimally-invasive technology is indicated in vertebral trauma and spinal instability, when it’s necessary to position the screws that support the vertebrae with extreme precision. In addition, O-Arm2 can be used on spinal tumors, myelopathies, vertebral hernias, scoliosis and degenerative spondylolisthesis.

O-Arm 2 is also used for the treatment of degenerative brain diseases such as Parkinson’s, where it is necessary to guide the surgeon’s hand with extreme precision when inserting the stimulation electrode.

Innovation at Humanitas Hospital does not stop there. In fact, very recently, researchers at the hospital have embarked on a new line of research, where they want to combine radiomics with 3D printing. Radiomics is the acquisition and analysis of medical images that, for example, describe the characteristics and quality of the patient’s bones. Having this information available, a physical model of the vertebrae of the spine can be reproduced with 3D printing, so that the surgeon can better plan the surgery before entering the operating room and evaluate the various surgical options, therefore minimizing possible complications.

The combination of radiomics and 3D printing is useful for several diseases, including lumbar spondylolisthesis, a spinal pathology that affects those of us over 65. This disease is characterized by the progressive forward displacement of one vertebra, with respect to the one beneath. The only currently available solution is surgical and is not always successful, forcing patients to undergo multiple surgeries.

Preventive knowledge of the quality of the patient’s bones can make the difference in choosing the right medication to promote bone formation and consequently increase the possibility of success of the surgery.

Here is a short video showing the O-Arm2 technology. It’s in Spanish but relatively easy to understand.

This post is also available in: Italiano

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