Miniature robot that helps point surgeons to just the right place for spinal repairs has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


Called the SpineAssist, the robot was made at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and manufactured by its inventor Moshe Shoham’s company, called Mazor Surgical Technologies.



The soft-drink-can-sized device is attached to a patient’s body, guiding and positioning tools and implants so that surrounding nerves are not damaged.



“SpineAssist minimizes the risk of working freehand in sensitive regions of the spine,” Shoham said in a Wednesday statement.



“It conceives a plan for locating the spinal implants, but neither replaces the surgeon nor performs any operations. After examining and approving the recommendation, the surgeon inserts surgical instruments through the arm of the robot, thereby minimizing the danger of damaging vital organs.”



The $100,000 device will be tested at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio and Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, Israel.



More than 500,000 spine operations are performed annually in the United States alone, the Institute said in a statement.



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