Dignity Health Licenses Robotic Surgical System

Agreement with Excelsius Surgical advances innovative, minimally invasive spinal procedures

San Francisco, Calif. - April 30, 2012 - Dignity Health announced today it has given exclusive licensing rights to Excelsius Surgical to develop and bring to market a robotic surgical guidance system that will allow physicians to perform less invasive spinal procedures. A prototype of the robotic surgical guidance system was developed by Dignity Health's Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ.

"Bringing new technology to the marketplace is one of the ways that we are working to advance the state-of-the-art of medicine, and ultimately to improve the quality of life worldwide," said Rich Roth, vice president of strategic innovation at Dignity Health. "We have developed a culture that fosters creativity among our employees and physicians, which leads to new technologies like this surgical guidance system that improve patient care."

Two of Excelsius Surgical co-founders Neil R. Crawford, PhD, lead investigator in Barrow's Spinal Biomechanics Lab, and Nicholas Theodore, MD, neurosurgeon and chief of the spine section at Barrow, developed the technology, which integrates state-of- the-art intra-operative digital imaging with a sophisticated robotic surgical assistant. The system enables neurosurgeons to perform robotically assisted minimally invasive surgery for a variety of spinal procedures resulting in less trauma for the patient, as well as reduced radiation exposure for patients, operating room staff, and surgeons.

"Every year, more than 500,000 spine surgeries are performed in the United States," says Phil Pomeroy, vice president, neurosciences at Barrow. "Technology like the surgical robotic arm is less invasive, enhances accuracy, reduces radiation and shortens the recovery of our patients with less pain and complications." "We are very pleased with our license agreement with Dignity Health to develop and commercialize the robotic guided surgical technology," says Dr. Theodore. "This technology will result in safer and more accurate spinal procedures that are less invasive. We will now be able to make an opening the size of a dime and place an implant with sub-millimeter accuracy. Robotics is clearly the next frontier in spinal surgery. As image guidance did over a decade ago, robotics promises to make spine surgery better, faster and safer."

"In developing our system, we started with what we had learned from years of studying complex 3-D spine kinematics and used these concepts to automate image guidance," says Dr. Crawford. "Our robotic system can automatically lock on to a planned screw path with high accuracy. Not only will it improve spinal surgery, it is also easy to use."