Bringing Advanced Surgery Solutions to San Antonio

By: Jennifer Webster
Monday, March 3, 2014

At Foundation Surgical Hospital of San Antonio, robotic surgery offers improved accuracy and faster recoveries, while the innovative use of stem cell allografts may improve the effectiveness of spinal fusion.

When a physician refers a patient with back pain to a neurosurgeon, the patient may respond with hope mixed with apprehension. Traditional open spine surgery has a reputation for being painful and involving a long recovery.

In the hands of an expert, however, most spine surgeries can now be performed with robotically assisted guidance, granting multiple benefits. Patients recover more quickly after surgery and experience less pain and scarring. Robotic spine surgery also improves accuracy of the placement of spinal instrumentation and can lower the risk of surgery compared to nonrobotic minimally invasive surgery. Because it requires less intra-operative X-ray imaging, robotic spine surgery exposes the patient to reduced amounts of radiation.

Delicate Technology for Diverse Conditions

In San Antonio, Michael A. Leonard, MD, neurosurgeon with Foundation Surgical Hospital and Executive Director of Alamo Neurosurgical Institute, uses Mazor Robotics’ Renaissance Guidance System to perform robotic spinal surgery.

“For nearly 10 years, I have been using a very similar system, the CyberKnife, which uses robotics to deliver precise radiation for brain and spinal tumors,” Dr. Leonard says. “My experience with the CyberKnife showed me the value and potential robotics could have if utilized for spine surgery. When Mazor Robotics announced the release of the first robotic system for use in spine surgery, I knew immediately the potential value this would have for my patients. The Renaissance Guidance System uses the same principles for the accurate placement of spinal hardware as the CyberKnife uses to precisely deliver radiation to tumors. Fundamentally, the technology is the same.”

Numerous spine procedures can be performed robotically, including surgery for herniated discs and scoliosis, spinal fusion, spine biopsy, and vertebroplasty.

“The applications are growing,” Dr. Leonard says. “For example, we are developing applications for cervical spine procedures and even for robotic-guided brain biopsies. Because of its high accuracy, robotic surgery has the potential to make the placement of any kind of spine instrumentation safer.”

Helping Patients Help Themselves

Foundation Surgical Hospital surgeons use another advanced technology to help their patient’s undergoing spinal surgery and other orthopedic procedures.

“We isolate stem cells from patients’ bone marrow during surgery, and we use the harvested bone marrow stem cells to enrich the naturally occurring stem cells in the area where we perform the fusion,” Dr. Leonard says. “We have had excellent results, including high fusion rates and shorter recovery times. This helps reduce the risk for a failed fusion and the need to perform repeat surgery.”

To learn more, visit or call 210-564-8300.