Advances in technology are making strides in the world of orthopedic surgery. If a tool provides consistent and reproducible results, it is added to the surgeon’s arsenal for treating patients.
Robotic-assisted surgery is one of those tools and has earned its place in orthopedics.
Dr. Deidre Blake, orthopedic surgeon and Medical Director of Cayuga Orthopedics, notes the importance of innovating with robotic-assisted surgery. “We’re always striving to make reproducibly excellent results through all of our surgeries, so robotics has really risen as an option for developing reproducible placements of hardware in total joint surgery and partial uni-compartment arthroplasty,” she says.
Who Benefits from Robotic-Assisted Surgery?
The knee is made up of three compartments—medial, lateral and patellofemoral. If you have osteoarthritis in one compartment, you may be a candidate for partial knee replacement. If the arthritis affects more than one compartment, total joint replacement is recommended. The FDA has approved robotic-assisted surgery for both instances.
Dr. Blake identifies two groups of patients who are the best candidates for the surgery; specifically in individuals who have experienced a prior trauma. “Some patients have deformity of their tibia or femur to begin with, and determining the accurate placements and angles becomes more complex. The robot can really help with this,” she shares. “For patients who have had prior trauma and have hardware in place that can make it impossible to use the traditional jigs and instruments in a total knee replacement, the robot comes into play and can help a great deal as well.”
Dr. Blake goes on to state that conventional surgery is still effective and safe. Robotic-assisted surgery can improve precision placement for optimal success in specific situations.
How Does Robotic-Assisted Surgery Work?
You may envision a robot being programmed to handle the operation on its own. That’s not the case. A handheld computer maps out the patient’s individual anatomy. The measurements it takes are fed into algorithms that determine where pins should be placed to complete the surgery.
“A robotic handheld device helps surgeons decide on the bone removal and implant positioning, based off all the computer-assisted measurements and the decision of where the implants have to be,” notes Dr. Blake. The surgeon guides the robotic handheld piece to navigate the best alignment and positioning of the implant.
What Are the Results?
If the candidate is a good fit for this technique, one benefit is that partial knee replacement requires a smaller incision. With more accurate placement of implants, they also last longer in the person’s body. This should significantly delay the necessity of a second surgery.
“Robotic-assisted surgery is a wonderful resource to have, and the results can truly be life-changing,” shares Dr. Blake. “If you have a doctor you trust who does these surgeries, I would listen to their advice on what surgery is appropriate for you, and whether robotics is the way to go.”
Dr. Blake is an orthopedic surgeon and Medical Director for Cayuga Orthopedics. She sees patients at 16 Brentwood in Ithaca and can be reached at 607-272-7000. If you would like to learn more about the robotics program, visit cayugarobotics.org