WVU Medicine Children’s surgeon performs state's first robotic pediatric spinal surgery

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – John Lubicky, M.D., chief of pediatric orthopaedics at WVU Medicine Children’s, has performed the state’s first robotic pediatric spinal surgery. The procedure was performed to treat neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form on nerve tissue, and correct severe scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine.

John Lubicky, M.D.
John Lubicky, M.D.

Dr. Lubicky used the Mazor X robotic surgical guidance system to perform the procedure. This robot is programmed with pre-operative imaging, which allows it to accurately identify and access critical parts of the anatomy and safely insert implants into the vertebrae. 

“The use of the robot allows us to navigate challenging or abnormal anatomy that would make the traditional freehand approach extremely difficult and maybe even risky,” Lubicky said. “We were able to load a pre-operative CT scan into the robot to help us safely navigate the patient’s anatomy to insert the screws and allow completion of a very difficult operation.”

The use of surgical robots is increasing at WVU Medicine, allowing surgeons to perform surgeries that would be more dangerous, invasive, or complicated using traditional methods.

“WVU Medicine Children’s has the capability of managing very severe spinal deformities in the safest way possible,” Lubicky said. “In this case, it would have been impossible to safely place the pedicle screws that anchor the rods to stabilize the patient’s spine.”

The patient is recovering well and is mobile.