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Valley Baptist Health System First to Bring Minimally Invasive, Robotic Spine Surgery to Rio Grande Valley

Feb 22, 2021

With the acquisition of advanced surgical equipment, Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen is the first acute care hospital to bring the benefits of minimally invasive, robotic spine surgery to patients in the Rio Grande Valley and south of Waco, Texas.

The cutting-edge equipment, which includes a surgical robot to assist in spine procedures in addition to mobile, intraoperative imaging equipment, will allow neurosurgeons with the Valley Baptist Neuroscience Institute to offer new treatment options to patients for a wide array of medical conditions, reducing the additional burdens of seeking treatment far from home.

“At Valley Baptist-Harlingen, our continued goal is to provide our patients with the most advanced and precise treatments,” said neurosurgeon Dr. Alejandro Bentancourt, who became the first physician to utilize the Brainlab computer navigation system, AIRO mobile intraoperative CT, and Cirq robotic surgical arm during the area’s first robotic spinal procedure. “With the new advanced imaging equipment, we can capture and review images of the patient’s anatomy while they are still in the operating room, allowing us to make decisions rapidly and to potentially change course if required. This helps to both save time and, when combined with our image-guided surgery system, potentially enables greater surgical accuracy.”

The imaging equipment provides intraoperative images that can assist surgeons in a wide range of clinical applications in the operating room including cranial, spinal, ear/nose/throat (ENT), head and neck, trauma, orthopedic and general surgery. Those images can provide surgeons with a wealth of information that can be critical to providing appropriate care quickly and efficiently, Bentancourt said. Additionally, features of the navigation system help surgeons plan the procedure with greater precision and accuracy than ever before, which can lead to safer and more effective procedures for patients.

“With this technology, we can rely on real-time intraoperative information,” He said. “This is a great benefit to our patients, enabling us to confirm if we have precisely achieved the objective of the procedure. While still in surgery, we can acquire diagnostic-quality post-operative images to verify results as the final step before closing up the patient, potentially decreasing the need for revision surgery down the road.”

Bentancourt said utilizing the new surgical robotic equipment could also offer a variety of benefits to patients, including less post-operative pain, smaller incisions, and less scarring than traditional open surgery.

“The robot is controlled by the surgeon during the procedure,” he said. “By having an extra software-driven hand, your doctor can focus on all the surgical steps with both human hands.”

The high-tech additions mark Valley Baptist Health System’s latest efforts to continue to provide high-quality healthcare to patients in the Rio Grande Valley, said Jennifer Bartnesky-Smith, Chief Strategy Officer for Valley Baptist Health System.

“We are extremely excited to offer this additional advanced surgical and imaging equipment within our operating room in Harlingen. Not only does this help advance the surgical technology available for use by our award winning Valley Baptist Neuroscience Institute physicians, but it also advances the level of surgical care that can now be offered to our community right here at home. This is a continuation of our sincere goal to offer the very best, most advanced care to our community, while hopefully alleviating the financial burdens of being required to travel outside the Valley for healthcare.”

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