GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A brand new robot is changing the way people with pain have neck and back surgery, and Green Bay just became the first city in Wisconsin to begin using it.
Globus ExcelsiusGPS is the fourth robot with full-time 'employment' at HSHS St. Vincent Hospital.
"It's the first and only robotic spine navigation system in the world, and there are less than 20 of these in the world, and we have one of them right here in Green Bay,” said Dr. Hoon Choi, Prevea neurosurgeon.
"It provides a much better outcome with smaller incision, less blood loss, less radiation, less guide wires,” said Jason Helgeson, executive director of Neuroscience Program at Prevea.
"Mechanically, you have to put in screws and connect the screws with rods. And that's what we do,” Dr. Choi explained.
The navigation system acts as an extra set of eyes for the surgeon, with the arm providing the precise placement for the screw. “While I'm looking down and operating, the navigation is tracking where my movements are,” said Choi. “You know where to go without even making a single incision in the skin."
The fact that the spine doesn't need to be fully exposed for surgery is huge for patients: speeding up the recovery, preventing blood loss and usually having fewer complications.
Hospital officials say you won't see an increase in your bill, either.
"We do not charge for the robot. We're charging for a surgery, if it's a level one, two, three, four, five level fusion, the rates obviously increase. If a patient were to come in here with zero insurance and have a spinal fusion here or at any hospital, it's going to cost a great amount: $80,000 to $150,000,” said Helgeson. “Obviously, patients have insurance. They all have different deductibles. So it could cost a patient several hundred to several thousand dollars until they meet their deductible.'