The Truth About Robotic-Assisted Spinal Surgery


If you suffer from a degenerative spinal condition, you have likely spent hours researching the latest treatments. Over the past decade, the techniques and tools have improved significantly to make surgery safer and more precise.

In 2017, St. Elizabeth Healthcare began using the most advanced tool for spinal surgery available—the Mazor X robotic-assisted surgical program. Tann Nichols, MD, a neurosurgeon with Mayfield Brain & Spine, is one of the surgeons who performs spinal surgery using the Mazor X at St. Elizabeth Healthcare. 

“Over the years, there has been an incremental improvement in how we can perform spinal fusions,” says Dr. Nichols. “Mazor X is a state-of-the-art surgical system that helps us be even more precise during surgery. With the enhanced preplanning capability and using guided imaging to place implants, it has transformed minimally invasive surgery.”

5 facts about spinal surgery with Mazor X

  1. Mazor X is a new tool, not a new surgery. Physicians perform the same type of surgery, but the new robotic-assisted tool allows them to do it more accurately. It is more of a guidance system that assists with the positioning of surgical instruments and spinal implants. The system allows for precise preplanning for the surgery, so there are fewer unknowns during surgery, which is especially important for complex spinal surgeries. Mazor X technology enables surgeons to perform more complex cases that would have been riskier in the traditional method.
  2. Mazor X improves patient outcomes. There is evidence that the Mazor X system improves outcomes for patients and allows surgeons to place implants more precisely. Patients often experience less pain, less use of narcotics, shorter hospital stays, and a quicker return to their daily routine.
  3. Mazor X is used when minimally invasive spinal fusion is the best treatment for your back pain. Typically, Mazor X is used for spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, scoliosis or curvature of the spine, spondylolisthesis, and vertebral fractures.
  4. The Mazor X surgical system minimizes trauma to tissue surrounding the spine. Because the surgery is minimally invasive and planned before entering the operating room, your surgeon can minimize incisions and damage to tissue surrounding the incisions.
  5. Not everyone with back pain needs surgery with the Mazor X. Many people that have back pain will not need spinal fusion. There are many treatments for back pain and a full evaluation will need to be done by your physician. A spine specialist can tell you the best options for your back pain.

Mazor X is changing how you look at back surgery. What used to be living with back pain and a long recovery process is no longer with the Mazor X tool.

Sign up for an online informational seminar

For more information on Mazor X surgery, sign up for our upcoming webinar. Dr. Nichols will discuss the use of robotics in spinal fusion surgery at St. Elizabeth Healthcare. Specific degenerative spine conditions where robotics may be used include spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, and herniated discs. Robotic technology provides enhanced precision and can help minimize trauma to the body, reduce pain, and make recovery time shorter. Dr. Nichols is a board-certified neurosurgeon and has been practicing in Northern Kentucky since 2008. His areas of expertise are minimally invasive spine surgery, including discectomy, decompression, spinal fusion; spinal cord stimulation, intrathecal pain pumps, kyphoplasty; brain tumors; carpal tunnel syndrome, and ulnar nerve neuropathy.