BackgroundThis study aimed to describe the state of the art in surgical robotics for spinal interventions, a challenging problem for which robots can provide valuable assistance. MethodsMultiple electronic databases were searched for articles published during the last 10years (2002-2012). Results were refined by defined inclusion criteria. ResultsA total of 18 different robots were found. Among them, five are commercially available systems: one specifically designed for spinal surgery, one for percutaneous needle-based interventions, two are radiosurgical systems with reported applications on the spine and another is a commercial robot which has been experimentally tested on spinal surgery. The remaining projects are research prototypes which are still on validation stages. ConclusionsA comprehensive state of the art is presented, showing that spinal robotic surgery is still at an early stage of development but with great potential for improvement. Copyright (c) 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.