A robotic device for spine surgery developed Mazor Surgical Technologies Ltd. of Israel won U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in January. The trials for the SpineAssist were conducted at the reknown Cleveland Clinic. The Cleveland Plain Dealer ran a story on the Israeli innovation.

Clinic helps firm perfect robotic spine surgery aid
March 6, 2004

By Roger Mezger
Plain Dealer Reporter

A robotic device for spine surgery that the Cleveland Clinic is helping an Israeli startup company perfect could debut in U.S. operating rooms this summer.

The device, called SpineAssist, is designed to help doctors zero in on the precise spot on a patient’s backbone where surgery is needed. Mazor Surgical Technologies Ltd. of Israel won U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in January to market SpineAssist.

Dr. Edward Benzel, head of the Clinic’s Spine Institute, and Dr. Isador Lieberman, an orthopedic surgeon there, are working on the project as consultants to Mazor and to the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, where the idea originated.

The hand-size device is the smallest robotic surgical system the FDA has approved, said Ori Hadomi, Mazor’s chief executive. After the surgeon tells the computer-controlled device what the plan for the operation is, SpineAssist guides the doctor through the procedure.

“I used to say that it’s nothing more than a cab that brings you to the address” where you tell it to go, Hadomi said Thursday from company headquarters in Caesarea, Israel.

A New York philanthropist approached the Clinic early last year about collaborating with Israeli startup companies and academic institutions, Lieberman said, and put the parties in touch with each other. A two-year, $50,000 grant is supporting the work at the Clinic.

Although Hadomi expects SpineAssist to go on the market around June 1, Lieberman says fine-tuning remains to be done.

Hadomi will be at the Clinic in mid-March for lab tests of the device on cadavers.
Mazor plans to establish some operations in the United States, Hadomi said, and Cleveland is being considered as a possible site. He said the company has not decided where it will build the device.

(See Exclusive video report on Mazor from IsraelHighTech.TV).