Mazor Robotics Renaissance Guidance System

A New Era

The New Uconn Health Patient Care Tower


During the early morning hours of May 13, 300 UConn Health doctors, nurses, staff, leaders, and volunteers mobilized to begin the carefully planned move of 70 inpatients, one by one, to UConn John Dempsey Hospital’s new patient care tower.

The new tower, which along with the original hospital building comprises the hospital, was designed with the latest, most advanced technology and patient safety, comfort, and privacy at the forefront. The aesthetic is made to be peaceful and healing, with soothing colors, earth-toned wood and tile, noise reduction features, and tons of natural light thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows throughout.

The tower is the biggest project of Bioscience Connecticut, the initiative launched by Gov. Dannel Malloy in 2011 to make Connecticut a leader in bioscience research and create new jobs. In addition to staff jobs at UConn Health, the project created more than 5,000 construction jobs.

“I am extremely impressed,” said patient Dr. Michael P. Kruger, who graduated from UConn School of Medicine’s orthopaedic residency program in the 1980s, after he was moved to the new facility. The private rooms are the biggest perk for any patient, Kruger said.

“Having a facility where you get the privacy — when doctors come in to talk to me, I don’t have to share the information with the guy next door — it makes a big difference, I think, in how you recover and what the outcome’s going to be,” he said.

We are great at what we do, but we are going to do it even better in the new tower.

Not to mention the state-of-the-art technology in the 11-floor, over 381,000-square-foot “hospital of the future.”

The Operating Suite is home to the da Vinci robot and the Mazor Robotics Renaissance Guidance System, the only one of its kind in New England for robotic-guided spine surgery. The suite includes 10 operating rooms, each with LED boom lighting, special rubber floors and air filtration systems for infection control, high-definition Black Diamond Video systems for enhanced surgical vision, live-broadcasting for medical education and physician training, and real-time communication with the Department of Pathology.

A 1,200-square-foot hybrid operating room will open this fall, equipped with advanced imaging capabilities for minimally invasive and complex procedures.

Four high-tech smart robots called TUGS will deliver pharmacy medications to nursing units across the hospital, along with high-speed, wall-based tube systems.

Other safety measures include a centralized monitoring system, allowing patients to be observed remotely 24 hours a day by technicians, in addition to traditional bedside monitoring by their nurses. And those nurses will be able to reach patients even faster if anything happens, thanks to Rauland Responder bedside call systems.

“The technology that we are now able to use for our patients is going to enhance the care that we deliver,” said Anne Sakitis, nurse manager of the orthopaedic surgery floor. “We are great at what we do, but we are going to do it even better in the new tower.”

The tower has six inpatient floors dedicated to intensive care, intermediate care, medicine, oncology, orthopaedic surgery, and general surgery, and 169 private patient rooms, including 28 private rooms in the intensive care unit. Each room honors one of Connecticut’s towns with a scenic nature photograph taken in that town by a local photographer, and features a view of the Farmington Valley, a high-tech bed and monitoring equipment, a private bathroom, and a couch that turns into a bed for visitors. The hospital now has 24/7 visiting hours.

The Emergency Department includes more than 40 patient rooms and five patient care zones, ranging from fast-track care for minor emergencies to advanced trauma care. It has onsite CT scan and X-ray, decontamination and resuscitation rooms, and an emergency dental chair.

The new tower is also home to a dedicated Dialysis Care Center, a Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, a Respiratory Therapy Department, and a physical/occupational therapy and rehabilitation gym. There are more than 80 ceiling lifts located throughout the hospital for safe patient handling.

“This tower represents a new era at UConn Health and for health care in our state. The opening of the new hospital tower is a very special generational milestone,” said UConn John Dempsey Hospital CEO Anne Diamond. “We did it! We dreamed it, we built it, and now we’ve opened it.”


Gallery: Inside the New Tower

A patient and staff are seen inside the Emergency Department waiting area. A children’s play area is inside opaque glass walls.

A UConn Health nurse shows a patient how to adjust her bed in a room on the sixth floor of the UConn Health new tower. It's open and spacious and large windows
Dr. David McFadden, surgeon-in-chief, gives direction in one of 10 new operating rooms. The room is equipped with a Black Diamond video camera, near top left, which allows surgeons to view a close-up video of procedures. Additional screens allow doctors to compare video to radiology scans to enhance precision.

Precise Instruments: Better Spine Surgery with Robots

By Lauren Woods
Photography by Janine Gelineau

Close up of Mazor Robotic Piece


For 30 years, Frank Ditaranto worked in the construction field. But a sudden back injury changed that, leaving Ditaranto unable to carry on his normal life.

“Two years ago, my back went out and it stayed that way,” says Ditaranto, a 50-year-old Terryville, Conn. resident. “Ever since, I have been bent over like I was 90, with shooting pain down my left leg to my toes, and I was unable to even straighten my leg.”

Daily life and even walking became difficult for Ditaranto. He tried pain medicine, physical therapy, aqua therapy, and epidurals, but there was no relief in sight — until now.

On Jan. 7, Dr. Isaac Moss, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery and neurosurgery at the Comprehensive Spine Center at the UConn Musculoskeletal Institute, was the first surgeon in New England to use the new Mazor Robotics Renaissance Guidance System to assist him during spine surgery. Ditaranto was his first patient.

To relieve Ditaranto’s severe lower-back and leg pain, Moss successfully removed and fused Ditaranto’s deteriorated L4-5 spinal discs using minimally invasive techniques.

“Thanks to the robotic technology, we were able to place screws in the patient’s spine with extremely high accuracy, small incisions, and minimal intraoperative radiation,” says Moss.

UConn Health is the first institution in New England to offer patients this pioneering and more precise robotic guided spine surgery.

A day after the surgery, Ditaranto said he already felt truly transformed: “For the first time I was able to stand up straight and not have pain shooting down my left leg.”

“I am too young to have to live like that,” says Ditaranto. “I now have new discs and hardware in my spine and I am good to go.”

Ditaranto says he feels “great” and looks forward to simply living life pain-free. Perhaps most importantly, as a single dad of a 16-year-old daughter, he most anticipates playing volleyball with her again.

Most spinal procedures like Ditaranto’s involve the attachment of screws and other implants to the spine. Spine surgery has little room for error. Spinal fixations, such as screws, are typically just millimeters away from sensitive spinal nerves, the spinal cord, the aorta, and other critical vessels.

The new technology’s software allows surgeons to plan a patient’s spine surgery virtually, using a 3-D simulation of the spinal anatomy based upon the patient’s most recent CT scan.

“It’s so important to plan in advance of spine surgery,” says Moss. “The Mazor Renaissance technology allows a surgeon to closely review the anatomy of each patient in depth, and get to know the specifics, to make a more precise surgical plan, and eventually execute a smoother operation.”

Once inside the operating room, the Mazor technology matches, in real time, the surgeon’s pre-operative 3-D plan with intra-operative X-ray imaging of the patient’s spine. During the procedure, the technology guides its robotic arm, which is about the size of a soda can, along the spine to help the surgeon pinpoint the precise location to place his tools to ensure the greatest accuracy and safe placement of screws and other hardware into the spine.


Doctors of the UConn Musculoskeletal Institute’s Comprehensive Spine Center use the Mazor Robotics Renaissance Guidance System to perform spine surgery in January.

Doctors of the UConn Musculoskeletal Institute's Comprehensive Spine Center use the Mazor Robotics Renaissance Guidance System to perform spine surgery in January. Janine Gelineau/UConn Health Photo

Dr. Isaac Moss of the UConn Musculoskeletal Institute will be New England’s and Connecticut’s first surgeon to use pioneering robotic guidance technology to assist him during spine surgery at UConn John Dempsey Hospital

Mazor robotic software images- which will help him pinpoint the most precise spot to place screws and other hardware into a patient’s spine.

Orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Isaac Moss uses the Mazor Robotics Renaissance Guidance System to perform spine surgery in January.


UConn Health is using the robotic-guidance technology for a wide range of spinal procedures including biopsies, thoracic and lumbar spinal fusion, and reconstruction for a wide variety of conditions such as scoliosis (abnormal curves in the spinal column), spondylolisthesis (when one vertebra slips forward onto the vertebra below it), tumors, and trauma, among others.

“Using this advanced technology puts UConn Health at the forefront of spinal surgery,” Moss says. “This technology allows us to perform both traditional and minimally invasive spine surgeries more effectively and safely.”

Other potential benefits of the robotic guidance technology include smaller incisions, shorter operative times, shorter hospitalization and recovery, less pain for patients, and less exposure to fluoroscopy X-ray radiation for both a patient and the surgical team.

To refer a patient to a UConn Health surgeon, call 860.679.5555.

Research shows that compared to freehand spine surgery, the robotic guidance technology can increase the accuracy of screws and other hardware placement by 1.5 mm. This increased accuracy may also reduce the potential for neurologic risks to patients, which may include future nerve pain, tingling, or tissue numbness.

Two other UConn Health surgeons in addition to Moss — Dr. Hilary Onyiuke, director of the Comprehensive Spine Center at the UConn Musculoskeletal Institute and chief of the Division of Neurosurgery, and Dr. Ryan Zengou, assistant professor in the Department of Surgery’s Division of Neurosurgery and the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery — plan to use the system.

“I look forward to using this technology to help patients with spinal pathology by performing complex procedures with optimal precision and the best outcomes possible,” Moss says.