PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (CBSNewYork) – A revolutionary surgery has removed a tumor from a man’s neck using tiny robots to perform the operation.

“It’s sobering,” Noah Pernikoff said after seeing the x-rays taken after surgeons saved his life. Pernikoff is the first patient in the world to have robot-assisted spinal surgery to remove a rare tumor in his neck.

Dr. Neil Malhotra, a neurosurgeon at Penn Medicine, put together a team of specialists to remove the cancerous tumor in a three-part, two-day surgery that spanned 20 hours.

The star of the operation was the Transoral Robot developed by Dr. Bert O’Malley.

“My hands can’t get down into the throat, but with these robotic arms you can get into the throat and do the surgical procedure,” he said.

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Transoral Robot operates on a patient (Credit: CBS)

The robot arms are moved through hand controls operated by the doctors and can make precise turns in tiny spaces.

“The excitement about the robot is it allows us to do the operation with less trauma, less collateral damage,” Dr. Malhotra explained.

“It sounded like it was out of a science fiction movie,” Pernikoff added.

The Transoral Robot is regularly used by surgeons for throat cancer procedures. This surgery was the first time it was used to remove a tumor at the top of a patient’s spine.