Saint Louis University Hospital Neurosurgeons Offer New, Minimally-Invasive Spine Surgery Option 
Friday, 07 February 2014 
ST. LOUIS - Neurosurgeons at Saint Louis University Hospital have a new, minimally-invasive option for complex spine surgery using O-arm technology, providing a virtual image of the spine that shows screw placement and trajectory during the procedure.

O-arm is a multidimensional imaging system providing surgeons with real-time, 3D images, giving clearer views of the patient’s anatomy.

Dennis Mollman, MD, PhD, director of spine surgery in the department of neurosurgery at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, helped develop use of the technology at the University of Minnesota and has performed more than 1,000 O-arm cases.

“These techniques are truly minimally invasive,” says Dr. Mollman. “The patient typically has a quicker recovery, shorter hospital stay, safer operation and less chance of a complication.”

Traditionally, spine surgery requires large incisions made to the mid-back and could require a seven to 10 day hospital stay. By using the O-arm, surgeons like Dr. Mollman have a better vision of the patient during the surgery, providing an all-around view showing where precise screw placement should go.

“We only need to make minimal small incisions,” says Dr. Mollman. “This produces less bleeding and a faster recovery time.”

After the incisions are made, a series of tubular dilators are inserted to widen the area, which allows for the muscle tissue to close back up after the surgery is completed, providing less scarring than a traditional spine surgery, which usually leaves patients with large, visible scars.

“This provides patients undergoing spine surgery a whole new level of safety and peace of mind with their procedure,” says Dr. Mollman.

Because of O-arm’s 3D view of the patients’ bodies with increased clarity and the minimal incisions that need to be made, a patient’s pain and blood loss decreases. The likelihood for tissue and muscle damage also declines. Subsequently, recovery time is lessened compared to traditional spine surgery. Dr. Mollman said for a surgery like lumbar fusion, the traditional recovery time could take 10 days, while this method generally only takes three.

O-arm’s imaging system also reduces the likelihood for corrective surgery in the future because of the accuracy it provides for surgeons when placing the rods or screws.

While not everyone is suited for minimally invasive surgery using the O-arm, Dr. Mollman says it provides many an alternative that could leave some patients with a more positive outcome.


About Saint Louis University Hospital

Saint Louis University Hospital is a 356-licensed bed quaternary/tertiary referral center located in the heart of the city of St. Louis. Approximately 75 percent of patients are drawn from a 150-mile radius. Through affiliation as the teaching hospital for Saint Louis University, the hospital provides patients and their families with an environment of medical innovation. Working in this endeavor are the hospital’s medical staff partners, SLUCare, the physicians of Saint Louis University. The hospital admits more than 17,000 patients annually, performs more than 200 organ transplants a year and is a Level I Trauma Center that treats more than 2,000 major trauma cases a year. For more information, please visit

Media Contact:
Jason Merrill