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First-in-world robot-assisted spinal surgery performed

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Making a groundbreaking progress in the field of medicine, a team of doctors led by an Indian-origin professor Dr Neil Malhotra performed the first-ever robot-assisted spinal surgery to successfully remove a rare tumour from the neck of a patient.

The surgery was completed at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in August 2017 over a span of two days and more than 20 hours.

A team of doctors from the University of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine adopted complex three-part, robotic-assisted procedure to remove a chordoma tumour from a patients’ neck.

Chordoma is extremely rare type of cancer which affects only one in million people each year. It occurs in the bones of the skull base and spine.

“This would be a first ever use of a robot in this manner – a rare approach to an already rare and complex case,” Neil Malhotra, an assistant professor of Neurosurgery and Orthopaedic Surgery said in a statement.

“Our team needed to reconstruct the removed area of patient’s spine using bone and rods, and that was only the beginning,” Malhotra further stated.

Talking about the risks associated with the procedure, Malhotra said removal could compromise the structural integrity of his spine, causing permanent paralysis.

“If we couldn’t remove the entire tumour, it would likely grow back, perhaps more aggressive than before,” he added.

The surgery was performed in three parts and now nine months after the surgery, the patient, a 27-year-old Noah Pernikoff, is back to work in commercial contracting.

“I’m lucky because they caught mine early. For a lot of people, if it’s not found and treated early, it’s lethal,” Pernikoff said.

“The doctor said if I hadn’t discovered it through the car accident it probably would have kept growing until it came to a point on my spinal cord where it caused paralysis or death. I feel very lucky in that regard,” Pernikoff added.

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