When you hear the word \u201crobot\u201d in the context of medicine, you might picture some distant utopian future where advanced machines treat and take care of us through precision science. But in reality, robotics are already in our hospitals and operating rooms, helping our skilled physicians and surgeons administer state-of-the-art healthcare that improves and saves lives. And nowhere is this technological advantage more important than in the field of neuroscience and neurosurgery. \u201cThe areas that we\u2019re operating on \u2014 the brain the spinal cord \u2014 they\u2019re very delicate structures that require the utmost respect of your anatomy,\u201d says Brandon Kujawski, MD, seventh-year neurosurgery resident at Allegheny Health Network (AHN). At the AHN Neuroscience Institute at Allegheny General Hospital, Kujawski and his colleagues are at the forefront of using robotics to assist in analyzing and operating on patients with complicated brain and spinal injuries and diseases. The tech helps physicians and surgeons identify otherwise invisible issues, operate with pinpoint accuracy, and improve patient outcomes, both in terms of procedural success and quicker, easier recovery times. In short, at AHN, the future is now. \u201cFor neurosurgery, I think robotics is the future,\u201d says Rick Williamson, MD, neurosurgeon at AHN. \u201cWe can very precisely remove a brain tumor or fix an aneurysm or remove a vascular malformation in the brain. Minimizing any kind of damage to surrounding brain tissue and optimizing patient outcomes.\u201d For example, AHN was the first hospital in the state of Pennsylvania to use the Synaptive Modus V\u2122, a digital surgical microscope with a robotic arm derived from the one previously used on the International Space Station to move astronauts, equipment, and cargo. The arm follows a neuro-navigation system that follows pre-surgery imaging and planning to ensure precision and provides patient and instrument data to the doctors in real time. The system also incorporates a high-powered camera, light sources, and a digital microscope that produce detailed optics for brain surgery. In fact, AHN Neurosurgeons use robotics in a lot of their imaging and microscopy, enabling them to look at diseases and injuries inside the brain at angle they could never previously imagine. \u201cI can tell exactly where I\u2019m at in the patient\u2019s brain,\u201d says Alexander Yu, MD, vice chair of AHN\u2019s Department of Neurosurgery. \u201cI can focus on a certain area of interest, for instance a brain tumor or a brain aneurysm, without having to manipulate the microscope myself.\u201d Allegheny General Hospital neurosurgeons were also the first in western Pennsylvania to use the Mazor Robotics Guidance System to perform highly precise spinal surgery. The Mazor Robotics Guidance System is the first commercially available robot for spine surgery, using detailed 3-D planning, intra-operative guidance of tools and implants, and innovative tracking tools to ensure all movements follow the surgical plan. Whether the patient is suffering from degenerative disk disease, scoliosis, a herniated disk, or another spine condition, this robotic technology helps optimize results while, at the same time, lessening the toll surgery takes on the body and leading to faster recovery \u2014 possibly as soon as the day of the surgery, itself. In addition to implementing robotics to improve the lives of patients today, AHN neurologists are also training the next generation of surgeons to pursue, learn, and adopt robotic technologies as they advance in the field. \u201cDr. Yu and Dr. Williamson are two of our faculty who have shown great enthusiasm for using robotics in the operating room,\u201d says Dr. Kujawski, in his seventh year of residency at AHN. \u201cAnd with training under them, they\u2019ve really pushed me, and they\u2019ve pushed all of the other residents to be engaged in the understanding of these things very early on. So that by the time we\u2019re finished or entering our careers on our own, we already have a high comfort level with robotic surgery compared to other residents across the country.\u201d As robotics become more and more integrated into all aspects of medicine, especially neurology and neurosurgery, AHN will continue to lead the way and ensure that its patients and its physicians are leading the way into a healthier future. \u201cThe exciting thing about AHN is that, because we are early adopters of new technology, the next generation of trainees here are going to have access to things I didn\u2019t have access to during my training,\u201d says Dr. Williamson. \u201cWhether it\u2019s fixing a broken spine or fixing a patient with terrible back pain, we\u2019re able to use precision in every single thing that we do. Disclaimers: Mazor X Robotics Guidance System is a trademark of Medtronic, Inc. and is used with permission. Synaptive Modus V\u2122 is a trademark of Synaptive Medical and is used with permission.