Feb 3, 2023 Spinal Surgery Goes High Tech

The O-arm Surgical Imaging System

Clara Maass Medical Center offers the latest version of O-arm surgical imaging to increase precision, reduce pain and shorten recovery times.

Patients in need of a spinal fusion or other spinal surgery are often concerned about the long and difficult recovery that follows. But state-of-the-art technology now available at Clara Maass Medical Center (CMMC) is not only improving patient outcomes, it’s also dramatically speeding up surgery times and recovery times with minimally invasive techniques guided by precise, real-time imaging.

O-arm surgical imaging has been available for more than a decade, but the latest versions of the portable CT scanning device, like those used at CMMC, provide highly detailed realtime images that make complex and delicate procedures more accurate and safer than ever before.

Frank Mazzarella, MD
Frank Mazzarella, MD

“We’re now at a point where we can navigate so much more,” says Frank Mazzarella, MD, Chief Continuum of Care and Clinical Services Officer at CMMC. “When we put an instrument in the spine, we know exactly where we are, anatomically verified under 3D navigation.” With the new O-arm imaging, “We can now do multilevel spinal fusions with small incisions in a minimally invasive fashion,” says Dr. Mazzarella.

Using the example of a transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF), a surgical procedure that permanently fuses bones of the spine, Dr. Mazzarella says that, in the past, a single-level fusion would take three hours to complete.

With the new O-arm technology, the surgery can be performed in an hour and a half. Because the surgery is less invasive when guided by the new O-arm, the road to recovery is easier.

As a result, patients undergoing single-level fusion can be discharged from the hospital in as little as 24 hours, or 36 hours for a multilevel fusion.

The focus for now is on spinal surgery, says Dr. Mazzarella, but the O-arm can be equipped for other uses as well, including cranial and neurological procedures including placement of electrodes for treatment of epilepsy.

For information about minimally invasive spine surgery at Clara Maass Medical Center, call 973-450-2000.