Over the years, orthopedic surgery has grown tremendously in technological advances. One innovation that has gained attention is robotic knee replacement surgery, which has improved precision and overall outcomes in the procedure, compared to traditional knee replacement.
In this blog post, I’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of robotic knee replacement surgery to provide more information about this cutting-edge procedure.
What is Robotic Knee Replacement Surgery?
Robotic knee replacement surgery, also known as robotic-assisted partial knee replacement or robotic-assisted total knee replacement, is very similar to a traditional knee replacement, but with the assistance of a robotic burr to guide and provide accurate navigation the surgeon’s cuts and placement of your implant. During a knee replacement, the surgeon removes damaged tissue and bone in the knee and replaces it with an artificial joint (the prosthesis). The goal of any knee replacement surgery is to repair arthritic damage, restore the mechanical axis and joint line, regain balance in flexion and extension gaps, as well as align patella tracking.
The Robotic Difference
There are now different companies with robot technology, but I trained on and use the NAVIO and CORI system. This is a surgical planning, navigation, and intra-operative visualization system combined with a hand-held, smart instrument that guides my hand during the operation, helping to make accurate and precise cuts. This system is an advanced computer program that provides robotic assistance that gives precise information about your knee and allows the handpiece to move only where it should. The data creates virtual boundaries so that we can remove only the necessary damaged surfaces.
This state-of-the-art technology allows for unprecedented precision of the knee implant based on each patient’s unique anatomy. This added level of accuracy allows me as your surgeon to be more precise in the placement of your joint replacement to allow for the most optimal soft tissue balancing which is critical to a well-functioning and long lasting joint replacement..
I use the system to take measurements of the knee, hip, and ankle to produce a 3-D image that’s specific to your knee. The program then takes that image and creates a detailed surgical plan to select the optimal implant type and placement specific to you. This information is used to help tailor the position of the implant to your femur and tibia shape, taking into account your unique cartilage wear, bone shape, and soft-tissue balance. With the NAVIO/CORI system, I can precisely remove damaged bone and restore motion, balance, and function to your knee with greater accuracy and less soft tissue damage.
The Advantages of Robotic Knee Replacement Surgery
There are several advantages to robotic knee replacement surgery. Robotic replacements are more accurate than traditional surgeries due to the precision it provides beyond the human eye and skill. This technology allows for more accurate alignment and better balance of the knee. Compared to traditional knee replacement surgery, the robotic technique has shown to deliver many overall advantages including more accurate implant placement and balancing of your soft tissue and overall alignment.
Recovery will likely vary from patient to patient, however, due to the unparalleled precision provided by this improved technology, we are able to more accurately balance the knee and placement of components specific to your unique anatomy. Although the studies are still limited, it is thought that better placement of the components may lead to less wear and future failure. Ultimately, the goal of joint replacement is to restore your normal anatomy as best as we can and robotics allows me to have precision and accuracy in creating a knee tailored to you.
By using the data from the 3D imaging and patient-specific surgical plan, I am able to choose the best implant size, type, and positioning for each patient. This custom approach ensures the best possible fit, often leading to better long-term results. One of the most intriguing and beneficial aspects to robotic knee replacement surgery is that it allows for a higher level of customization than traditional methods.
Disadvantages of Robotic Knee Replacement Surgery
There are very few disadvantages associated with robotic knee replacement surgery, with the many advantages far outweighing them. However, even with all the advantages, that still doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Most of my patients undergo robotic replacements unless needing revision surgery. The main restrictions for this procedure are related to the patient’s size or weight or poor health.
Robotic replacement surgery is a specialty not all surgeons know how to perform, or not all hospitals offer it. This limited availability means the patient may have to travel out of town to find a facility that does offer this procedure. As a knee surgeon, specially trained in robotic knee replacement surgery, I am one of the few surgeons who has access and ability to use this advanced technology.
Robotic knee replacement surgery can offer many advantages, including enhanced precision, improved patient outcomes, quicker recovery, and patient specific treatment plans. If you are interested in learning more about robotic total knee replacement surgery, contact my office to see if you are a candidate for this procedure.