Mark Addleman

24 January 2024

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A 23-year-old woman was shot multiple times by Hamas terrorists from Gaza as they savagely attacked the outdoor Supernova music festival on October 7. One of the bullets penetrated the woman’s left eye and lodged in the right side of her brain. Thousands of others, like the woman from the festival, were injured and rushed to Israeli hospitals by the end of that horrific day.


Fortunately, the young woman survived. She and other wounded civilians and soldiers have not only doctors and other medical staff to thank for saving their lives, but also new Israeli-developed medical technologies.


The death rate among wounded soldiers in the current war is 6.7 percent, this can be attributed to faster evacuations from the battlefield to hospitals (an average of one hour and 6 minutes faster) and better protective equipment. However, medical advances based on new technologies developed since earlier conflicts also play a critical role in boosting the survival rate.


Artificial intelligence streamlines patient treatment


Using surgical robots to remove bullets and shrapnel, Prof. Leon Kaplan performs robot-guided minimally invasive spine surgery to remove a bullet from an injured IDF soldier at Hadassah, December 2023. (Courtesy of Hadassah)


At Hadassah in Jerusalem, Dr. Josh Schroeder, head of the spinal deformity surgery department, has used robots in his work for the last decade.


“Robotic spine surgery to treat scoliosis and other deformities is our bread and butter. The robot guides us in the placement of pedicle screws, for example,” Schroeder said.


While surgical robotic technology has been around a while, Schroeder, along with Prof. Leon Kaplan, and Prof. Meir Liebergall, used it in a novel way in late December to treat a soldier who had a bullet stuck in his sacrum, the large triangular bone at the base of the spine. Leaving the bullet in the body was not an option, as it would affect the nerves going down the leg and could cause lead poisoning.


“The soldier was initially brought to another hospital, but they could only operate by opening his body. However, at Hadassah it would be performed with robotically assisted minimally invasive surgery and would take no more than one and a half hours instead of half a day. And the recovery would be much easier and quicker,” Schroeder said.


The Hadassah surgeons used the Mazor robotic guidance system by Israeli company Medtronic. Hadassah has one such robot at each of its Jerusalem campuses. The surgery to remove the bullet from the soldier was done at Hadassah Ein Kerem.


The team uploaded computed tomography scans from before the surgery and two x-rays taken in surgery. The robot merged all this input and calculated the exact location for the surgeons to go in and extract the bullet.


“We’ve also used the robot to do minimally invasive surgery to fix fractures in soldier’s spines, remove shrapnel, and treat various injuries of October 7 victims,” Schroeder said. “We can do this because the robot gives us the perfect trajectory for going in to fix the problem,” he said.


Editor’s Notes

An excerpt from an article published by The Times of Israel, written by  RENEE GHERT-ZAND

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