St. Francis Hospital’s New Robotic Platform Transforms Spine Surgery


CHI Franciscan’s St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way, Washington is expanding high quality, innovative surgical care with a spinal robotic surgery platform that combines robotics and navigation software — the first of its kind in King County. The technology allows surgeons to perform minimally invasive spinal fusion surgeries at a rate of 98 percent implant placement accuracy. The minimally invasive nature of this technology ultimately helps to reduce tissue damage and shortens the patient’s length of stay.

“Our new robotic surgery arm enables us to deliver the highest-quality spinal care available to our patients,” said Dino Johnson, St. Francis Hospital chief operating officer. “We look forward to using this cutting-edge technology to help patients heal and return to their everyday life as soon as possible.”

The robotic surgery system utilizes photos of the patient’s spine to develop a patient plan, including implant size and placement. With a patient plan in place, the robotic surgery system allows a surgeon to plan a pathway to the specific region of the patient’s spine in need of surgical intervention — similarly to a GPS. The surgeon then follows the path laid out to accurately place stabilizing screws with a minimally invasive approach. This technique enables surgeons to perform faster implant placement than traditional spinal fusion procedures and with less impact to the patient’s surrounding tissue.

“The spine is one of the most important parts of the body that requires the utmost precision and care during surgery,” said Kenneth Nwosu, MD, St. Francis Hospital spine surgeon, who completed the first surgery with the robotic system. “We are excited the surgical robotic system enables us to consistently enhance our surgical accuracy.”

In addition to patient benefits, the robotic surgery system also improves health care provider safety. Studies have shown that image intensifiers typically used during traditional spine surgery can increase provider exposure to radiation, which the robotic technology reduces.

The spinal robotic surgery platform at St. Francis Hospital is part of CHI Franciscan’s continued efforts to offer state-of-the-art tools to deliver the highest quality of care to its patients. It joins CHI Franciscan’s long list of robotically-assisted surgical tools across the system including bariatric, urologic, thoracic, orthopedic, and gynecologic robotic surgery tools.

About CHI Franciscan

CHI Franciscan is a Catholic nonprofit health system based in Tacoma, Washington, with $2.45 billion in total revenue and a team of more than 12,000 physicians, providers, nurses, and staff that provide expert, compassionate medical care at 11 acute care hospitals and over 200 primary and specialty care clinics throughout the greater Puget Sound. This includes St. Anthony Hospital, Gig Harbor; St. Clare Hospital, Lakewood; St. Elizabeth Hospital, Enumclaw; St. Francis Hospital, Federal Way; St. Joseph Medical Center, Tacoma; Harrison Medical Center, Bremerton and Silverdale; Highline Medical Center, Burien; CHI Franciscan Rehabilitation Hospital, Tacoma, and Wellfound Behavioral Health Hospital, Tacoma. Started in 1891 by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, today CHI Franciscan is one of the largest health systems in Washington state. The system is comprised of more than 1,200 hospital beds and over 4,000 credentialed providers offering cardiovascular care, cancer care, orthopedics and sports medicine, neurosciences, women’s care and other health care services. CHI Franciscan’s mission is to create healthier communities, including caring for the poor and underserved. In fiscal year 2018, the organization provided $190 million in community benefit — free, subsidized, and reduced cost health care and programs.