Surgical Robots Help Fine-Tune Joint Replacements

Robotic technology improves accuracy during surgery

Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is the most common cause of walking-related disability in people age 65 and older.

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For some individuals with degenerative joint disease, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, braces, activity modification, weight loss or injections can help. But if the disease progresses despite these measures, and partial or total joint replacement is recommended, patients may benefit from emerging robotic-assisted technology available to assist surgeons.

“This latest surgical robot adds an unparalleled level of accuracy and precision to total knee, total hip and partial knee replacement surgery,” says orthopaedic surgeon Robert Molloy, MD, Director, Adult Reconstruction.

At select hospitals, robotic-assisted technology is an option for patients with osteoarthritis or other conditions that have led to bone-on-bone arthritis or loss of cartilage in a hip or knee joint, and who have not had success with other treatments.

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“The robot allows us to create a 3D model of a patient’s bone, choose the correct implant size and placement, and then create a custom surgical plan to put in the replacement,” says Dr. Molloy, who has already performed several surgeries with the new robotic-assisted technology. “The custom surgical plan takes into account the patient’s unique anatomy, including assessment of their soft tissues prior to making any bony cuts. This type of surgical planning hasn’t been available previously.”

Surgeons use the robot to conduct a virtual run-through prior to the actual surgery, adjust the surgical plan if needed once surgery is underway, and better execute the removal of the bone during the surgery.

“Registry data show this robotic technology for partial knee replacement surgery is more accurate than manual or traditional surgery, resulting in less early failure of the replacement joint, and therefore less chance for additional surgeries,” Dr. Molloy says.

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If you’re planning for a total knee, total hip or partial knee replacement surgery, talk with your orthopaedic surgeon to determine if this new robotic-assisted surgery is available and if you may be a candidate.

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