From hour-long surgery to a 5 minute procedure: How robot technology changed spinal operations

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Dr. Nicholas Theodore using the robot technology during surgery. (Supplied)
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Dr. Nicholas Theodore using the robot technology during surgery. (Supplied)
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Dr. Nicholas Theodore using the robot technology during surgery. (Supplied)
Updated 26 June 2018
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From hour-long surgery to a 5 minute procedure: How robot technology changed spinal operations

DUBAI: A doctor has revolutionized spinal surgery with the introduction of a robot that can carry out a procedure that previously took an hour in just five minutes.
Dr. Nicholas Theodore, director at the neurosurgical spine center at Johns Hopkins Medicine, has invented an image-guided robot for spine surgery that marries a CT scan of the patient with the actual patient.
And already it has shown its capability, by inserting four screws into a patient’s spine in just five minutes – a procedure that previously took 12-times as long.
“As good as I am or anybody is, nobody’s perfect and the whole issue is: Can we make surgery safer for the patient? Can we make that experience quicker and more accurate?” Dr. Theodore, who is also a professor of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University told Arab News.
Using real-time imaging technology that constantly monitors the patient’s moves, the robot is able to adapt as the patient breathes or changes position slightly, allowing a greater chance of 100 percent accuracy and faster recovery time.
And the use of image-guided robotics helps to reduce the risk of error, such as screws going into the wrong place, which are more likely under more traditional methods Dr. Theodore explained.
“The trend in all of medicine is to improve our outcome and to make things safer, i think robotics is the future of everything we do in surgery,” the doctor said.
According to a 2015 study found in the World Journal of Emergency Surgery on the epidemiology of spinal injuries in the UAE, traffic injuries and falls were the leading causes for spinal injuries in the UAE.
Using modern techniques such as robotics in surgical procedures is costly, but Dr. Theodore insists that the machine will “pay for itself.”
“Now I can do three operations in one day instead of two; the hospital will be profitable in that respect,” the doctor said, adding that “the cost becomes irrelevant when patients are doing better and they’re going home faster.”


Microsoft’s Bing search engine goes offline in China

Updated 24 January 2019
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Microsoft’s Bing search engine goes offline in China

  • Attempts to open cn.bing.com has resulted in an error message for users since Wednesday
  • China’s Communist authorities operate an online censorship apparatus known as the “Great Firewall”
BEIJING: Microsoft was investigating a disruption in its Bing search engine in China on Thursday, with social media users fearing it could be the latest foreign website to be blocked by censors.
Attempts to open cn.bing.com has resulted in an error message for users since Wednesday.
“We’re aware of reports that Bing may be inaccessible to some customers in China and are investigating,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement.
China’s Communist authorities operate an online censorship apparatus known as the “Great Firewall,” which blocks a slew of websites including Facebook, Twitter and several foreign media outlets.
But it was not clear whether or not Bing joined the long list of prohibited websites, or if its China service was experiencing technical difficulties.
China’s cyberspace administration could not immediately be reached for comment.
China’s Great Firewall can be circumvented by using a virtual private network (VPN), which can hide a user’s IP address.
While its rival Google shut down its search engine in China in 2010 after rows over censorship and hacking, Bing has continued to operate in the country along with Microsoft-owned Skype.
On Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media site, people complained about the lack of access, with some speculating that Bing too had been “walled off.”
Others aired their dissatisfaction about having to use Baidu, China’s largest domestic search service.
“I can’t open Bing, but I don’t want to use Baidu — what to do?” wrote one user.
“Bing is actually dead — is this to force me to use Baidu??” said another, cursing.
China has tightened policing of the Internet in recent years, shuttering 26,000 “illegal” websites in 2018 alone and deleting six million online posts containing vulgar content, the official Xinhua news agency said earlier this month.
Bing’s disruption comes as the United States and China are locked in a bruising trade war, with US accusations that China steals technological know-how among the core disagreements.
The two sides are scheduled for new trade negotiations next week.