An OR without navigation will be 'foreign' in the future, says 1 surgeon

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Technology and AI are positioned to have a big impact on orthopedic and spine surgery in the future, led by robotics and navigation, according to one surgeon. 

Choll Kim, MD, PhD, an orthopedic spine surgeon at Excel Spine in San Diego, recently connected with Becker's on the future of technology in the operating room and why he is optimistic for spine and orthopedic surgeons going forward.

Note: Responses were lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: What healthcare technology will change the spine industry the most?

Dr. Choll Kim: While the spine robot has been at the front of everyone's mind, it is navigation that will be of greatest impact to our field. Knowing where we are in 3D space at any time will greatly improve patient safety, while allowing surgeons to perform surgeries with less exposure and damage to surrounding tissues. In the end, achieving the goals of surgery while minimizing unnecessary collateral damage is where all surgery is headed in the future. An operating room without navigation will some day seem as foreign as a car without Google maps. 

Q: What's one reason spine and/or orthopedic surgeons should be optimistic about the future?

CK: If you are a spine surgeon, you should be grateful that we are in a highly dynamic field marked by great strides in our capabilities. I am optimistic that the convergence of endoscopic and minimally invasive technologies, intraoperative navigation and robotic assistance, together with sophisticated data acquisition and analysis (turbo-charged with AI capabilities) will empower us to better care for our patients. As our overall population continues to age, spine surgeons and orthopedic surgeons will be in great demand.

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