Local Doctor First in the World to Perform a Direct Lateral SI Joint Fusion Surgery Robotically

Mar 05, 2018Press Releases

BLACKFOOT, ID – March 1, 2018 The Idaho Back Institute at Bingham Memorial Hospital (BMH) is pleased to announce that their Orthopedic Spine Surgeon, Dr. Robert Johnson, recently performed the world’s first direct lateral sacroiliac (SI) joint fusion surgery using the Mazor X robotic system. He also revolutionized the surgery by inserting implants using a much more advanced minimally invasive technique.

The SI joint (between the sacrum and the ilium bones of the pelvis) can cause significant discomfort for patients. The pain resonating from this area can present as if it is originating from the back, hips, or other areas. A SI joint fusion surgery stabilizes the SI joint thereby minimizing and even eliminating pain.

“Up until now, a direct lateral SI joint fusion surgery had never been performed using a robot-guided system, which is actually the more optimal way to do it,” says Dr. Johnson. “Using the Mazor X, I am able to make the surgery more minimally invasive by inserting the implants using a direct lateral or a 90-degree approach through a smaller incision, with better accuracy and precision than ever before.”

Nerves, blood vessels, and internal structures surrounding the pelvis need to be avoided as much as possible. When performing a SI joint fusion with the Mazor X coupled with a direct lateral approach, Dr. Johnson is able to be more precise and accurate, greatly limiting complications by ensuring the right trajectory and correct positioning of the implants. As a result, this decreases hospitalization time, speeds up recovery, and improves surgical outcomes and quality of life while saving patients both time and money.

“Traditionally, SI joint fusions are performed with a larger incision, which has associated complications,” says Dr. Johnson. “Larger incisions and less minimally invasive methods cause more damage to the surrounding tissues, making it more difficult for patients to recover. Not to mention, in the past you had to rely on techniques that are inferior in their accuracy and precision—specifically X-rays or fluoroscopic views, where you are taking a 2-dimensional image and trying to recreate a 3-dimensional product. This is no longer the case when using the Mazor X.”

When Dr. Johnson was asked how he felt to be the first doctor in the world to perform a more advanced minimally invasively SI joint fusion with the Mazor X, he said, “It’s always good to strive for perfection and make improvements to everything we do. As long as we can do that safely, that is what we should strive for. Ultimately, it boils down to how well and quickly a patient is going to recover from surgery, regardless of what it takes to get there. I am happy, though, this new process helps improve the patient’s surgical outcome in many ways. For me, it’s always about doing what’s best for the patient.”



About Robert Johnson, DO

Dr. Johnson is a fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon with the Idaho Back Institute at BMH who treats people with a wide variety of spinal conditions of the neck and back. He specializes in several areas of spine surgery.

His primary goal as a physician is to help patients obtain some relief from their ailments so they can keep doing what they love, and he strongly believes in exhausting all conservative means to treat a wide variety of spinal conditions of the neck and back before suggesting surgery.

Bingham Memorial is among the world’s first hospitals to use a new tool in robot-guided spinal surgery—the Mazor X system. Dr. Johnson uses the Mazor X robotic equipment during spine surgery, and is one of the only physicians in the U.S. who has been trained to do so. Performing a robot-assisted spine surgery allows him to have greater precision and make smaller incisions, which translates into shorter hospital stays, better clinical outcomes, and faster return to everyday activities.

He welcomes patients in Idaho Falls, Blackfoot, and Pocatello. Appointments can be scheduled by calling (208) 235-2277. Se habla Español

To learn more about Dr. Johnson, visit:

About the Mazor X Robotic System

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About the Idaho Back Institute at BMH

The Idaho Back Institute at BMH offers conservative care for pain relief as well as minimally invasive and endoscopic spinal care. Their team of world-class spine surgeons provide a comprehensive multi-step approach to cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spinal pain. They believe in exhausting all conservative means to treat a wide variety of spinal conditions of the neck and back that result in chronic pain and a diminished quality of life before suggesting surgery. In fact, 80 percent of their patients receive relief without surgery.

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