Article By: Samantha Cronk
Photos By: Josh Triggs
The doctors and staff at Berkeley Medical Center take their mission to be a premiere medical and patient care facility seriously, continuously striving to bring the best practices, equipment and technologies to the hospital to ensure area and regional residents have access to the best care possible. Under that directive, Berkeley Medical Center recently became the first medical facility in West Virginia to acquire the stateof- the-art Mazor X robotic surgical guidance system for spinal surgery. As part of WVU Medicine Brain and Spine, Berkeley Medical Center purchased the Mazor X system so spinal surgeries can be accomplished through minimally invasive procedures that will achieve shorter hospitalization and easier recovery for patients as well as providing more data and capabilities for surgeons.
Dr. John R. Caruso, MD, is the Director of Neurosurgery at Berkeley Medical Center as part of its new neurosurgery service line, WVU Medicine Brain and Spine, and is currently the only doctor qualified and trained to use the technology which has been active at Berkeley Medical Center since August.
“One of the risks of surgery is the uniqueness of everyone’s anatomy and size. Some people are hard to get at internally, not everyone has the same bone structure. The Mazor X platform is designed for putting in implementation for internal fixation and how we reestablish strength for the spine,” Caruso said. “It’s ensuring an accuracy and level of treatment to help minimize a lot of the concerns associated with spinal surgery and recovery,” he said.
Caruso said the guidance system provides valuable assistance not only during surgery, but prior to any procedures with 3D planning and information with visualizations of anatomy and patients’ personal contours. During surgery, the Mazor X system guides tools and implants for maximum precision, increasing stabilization, enabling for smaller incisions, minimizing tissue damage and making the operation an overall less invasive procedure.
Some of the safety statistics Caruso provided for the robotic system includes an accuracy of placement of screw or internal fixation measure within 1.5 millimeters, a measurement he described as unparalleled. Through the surgical guidance system, the misplacement rate has been reduced from 4-15 percent to 1-2 percent. He stated the system also reduces patients’ exposure to radiation by 70-75 percent. The guidance system also has a profound impact on patient recovery. According to Caruso, a patient’s length of stay after a spinal procedure is reduced by 50 percent due to the new technology.
“The role of the robot is important to minimize stress to patients. It cuts down on patient recovery time and their length of stay at the hospital, so we’ve been pushing more spinal surgeries toward outpatient procedures,” he said.
In purchasing the Mazor X robotic surgical guidance system, which came with a seven-figure price tag, shows a significant dedication to advancing care options not only locally, but throughout the state and regions in Ohio and Maryland associated with West Virginia University Medicine, Caruso said.
“The Mazor X platform was bought as a commitment to the community. The goal is to continue to evolve how we take care of patients in the Eastern Panhandle. We’re always trying to keep people local instead of traveling for care if possible and provide services that are important to the health of the community,” he said.
While the Mazor X system will undoubtedly have an impact on this region, it’s presence will bring positive consequences that are far reaching. West Virginia University and Berkeley Medical Center are actively trying to develop a neuroscience initiative at the university level, leading to more doctors trained and knowledgeable on this equipment and technology. “One of the choices I made for them, in my role as director, if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do this the right way. We want to get the robotics system in every hospital.
We’ll guide the rest of the state in regard to evolving (spinal surgery technology),” Caruso said. As the medical director of WVU Medicine Brain and Spine and the only trained surgeon on Mazor X, Caruso has been tasked with developing a reproducible care paradigm that can be utilized as the model throughout the state, especially aiding in bringing in more neurosurgeons.
“It’s been a privilege to help lead this initiative. I’ve learned a lot in the last 20 years in this region. This is in my wheelhouse, so it’s going to be a nice evolution of care being brought to the area. Residents can get exceptional care locally. I’m really honored to see the commitment to care from the University. This system is something I wanted to bring to the table for them, and they embraced that,” he said.
Berkeley Medical Center is the first medical facility in West Virginia to have a Mazor X robotic surgical guidance system. In fact, if the system were not located in the Martinsburg medical center, local residents would have to drive at least 60 miles to the closest facility that does have the surgical system in Reston, Virginia or 190 miles to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Berkeley Medical Center is located at 2500 Hospital Drive in Martinsburg and can be contacted at 304- 264-1000. The WVU Medicine Brain and Spine facility is located at 880 N. Tennessee Avenue in Martinsburg and can be contacted for appointments and information at 240-513-4591.