Cutting-Edge Technology Improves Spine Surgery at Sheridan Memorial

Dr. James Ulibarri, left, and Physicians Assistant Sean Schoonover perform a recent surgery utilizing the latest in medical technology for robotic spine navigation. (Courtesy photo)
Dr. James Ulibarri, left, and Physicians Assistant Sean Schoonover perform a recent surgery utilizing the latest in medical technology for robotic spine navigation. (Courtesy photo)

Sheridan Memorial Hospital now offers cutting-edge technology for safer, more accurate spine surgery.

The hospital recently became only the fifth hospital in the western United States, and the 20th in the country, to install the combined robotic and navigation technology.

Dr. James Ulibarri, with Sheridan Orthopaedic Associates and a highly regarded spine surgeon in the region, explained how the new system works.

He said the technology allows him to make smaller incisions to decompress nerves, he can make very small incisions to place hardware if needed for an unstable spine. The technology, which is the first of its type, allows him to very accurately place screws for an unstable spine using very small incisions. He said he's now done four cases using the new equipment, and he has another on Monday.

He said the system is more complicated, but it's basically analogous to having a GPS for the spine.

Dr. Ulibarri said before having this technology, he occasionally had to send patients to large urban medical centers if they were high risk, had tumors in hard-to-reach places or had complicated patterns of trauma injury.

Now, he said, he can perform more of those cases here in Sheridan, which means patients can be close to home where they have the support of family and friends.

In addition to smaller incisions and greater precision, the new equipment also means less operating time and blood loss for patients, less tissue or muscle damage, less radiation exposure, less risk for infection, shorter hospital stays and faster recovery.

The robotic guidance system doesn't function independently. The work is still done by the surgeon, who is in full control of the system at all times.

View another photo below.

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Dr. Ulibarri with a replica of a human spine. (Courtesy photo)
Dr. Ulibarri with a replica of a human spine. (Courtesy photo)
SheridanWyoming.com

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