Caldwell, ID — Teenagers performing surgery? Not exactly.

But the competitive robotics class from Caldwell High School will come close when they visit West Valley Medical Center on May 8 to plan and perform a simulated spine surgery using the one of the hospital's two new surgical robotics.

West Valley's new MazorX system for spine procedures, the only one of its kind in the Treasure Valley, enables physicians to create a 3D blueprint of the surgery in advance using each patient's unique spine anatomy. The surgeons then make incisions and place implants in the exact preplanned locations, using the robotic‐assistance system to guide their tools according to the customized surgical blueprint.

To provide an experience as close to the real thing as possible, Caldwell High students will use the MazorX software in class to create their own 3D blueprint based on an actual surgical case. When they arrive at West Valley on May 8, the class will review their plan with hospital staff and MazorX representatives before dressing for surgery in real operating room scrubs, shoe covers, and hats. The teens will then join spine surgeons Dan Bradley, MD, and Michael Glover, MD, in the OR for a robotic‐assisted spine surgery simulation using their 3D blueprint.

"As West Valley invests in healthcare technology that creates better surgical experiences for local patients, we continually seek skilled professionals who are comfortable using these advanced tools in a clinical setting," Shawn Lindsay, executive director of perioperative surgery for West Valley, said. "Robust STEM education programs are essential to creating a healthcare workforce that can keep pace with the latest technology. We are so proud to have the Caldwell High competitive robotics program in our community, and it is our privilege to share our tools and resources with them."

The MazorX is one of two new surgical robots at West Valley. The hospital also recently invested in a Da Vinci surgical system, which uses robotic technology to enhance minimally invasive gynecological, urological and general surgical procedures. Robotic‐assistance systems have been shown to increase surgical accuracy, lower complication rates, reduce postoperative pain, and aid in faster recovery when compared to open, freehand surgeries.