LITTLE ROCK — The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Medical Center is the first hospital in Arkansas to operate with the ExcelsiusGPS robotic spine navigation system that helps improve accuracy and reduce the invasiveness of spinal surgery.

Noojan Kazemi, M.D., an associate professor of neurosurgery in the UAMS College of Medicine and director of the Spine Neurosurgery Program, performed the first procedure at UAMS with the ExcelsiusGPS robot. Kazemi specializes in using the latest and most innovative techniques in minimally invasive spinal surgery to perform all aspects of spine surgery, including degenerative, deformity and spine tumor surgery. He sees patients in the UAMS Neurosurgery Clinic.

“In minimizing our incisions and dissection pathway, we are able to allow faster recovery time and, hopefully, better and faster healing,” Kazemi said. “For patients, this could mean less time in the hospital and a greater chance of returning to a fully functional life more quickly.”

Kazemi said the system helps surgeons plan the surgery in advance to find the best path given the unique anatomy of each patient. The ExcelsiusGPS also combines the precision of robotics with the advantage of navigational feedback in real time. The surgeon can guide each step while watching live scans of the patient’s anatomy in interaction with each procedure. Research shows the ExcelsiusGPS to be incredibly accurate at screw placement and that it reduces the time spent in surgery compared to other minimally invasive methods. In addition, the surgery can be planned ahead of time on the robot to allow for accurate and faster placement of the spine instrumentation during the operation itself.

“Accuracy has always been one of our biggest issues in spinal surgery, and it’s vitally important to the success of the patient’s experience after back surgery,” Kazemi said. “There are many important structures in that part of the body — the spinal cord, peripheral nerves, nerve roots, and so on — so we always need to optimize our surgical precision as much as possible. Robot-assisted surgery is helping us achieve that.”

Kazemi said robotics is bringing major advances and great promise to the field of neurosurgery.

“What’s exciting for me about the robot is not just where it is right now, but some of the functions that it will be able to perform in the future,” Kazemi said. “UAMS is a teaching hospital and a research institution, and it is part of our mandate to stay at the forefront of innovation. I am glad we are able to bring robotic-assisted spinal surgery to Arkansas and be part of the scientific effort to help develop and teach this technology — as well as benefit our patients with the latest techniques available anywhere.”

For more information, contact the Neurosurgery Clinic at 501-686-5270.