Archive Orthopedic Surgery 2018

Robotic Knee Replacements Ramping Up

Now's the time to invest in optimizing implant placement and attracting new patients to your ORs.

Daniel Cook

Daniel Cook, Executive Editor


EXACT SCIENCE Robotic assistance ensures implants restore the knee's natural flexion and balance.

There is no debate that the precision with which a surgeon can position and align the implant with the assistance of a robotic arm makes robot-assisted knee replacements superior to conventional surgery where the surgeon seats the implant manually. Convincing surgeons that a robotic arm improves outcomes vs. "ocular navigation" — their naked eye, hands and experience? That's another story. And that's where the arthroplasty debate rages on.

"The margin between where we are and where we need to be in joint replacement outcomes is greatest in knees," says Richard Illgen, MD, the co-director of the arthritis and joint replacement program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, Wis. "Robotics can help bridge that gap. The biggest challenge moving forward will be convincing surgeons that the technology offers significant improvement to the outcomes they achieve with manual surgery using ocular navigation."

Room for error

A robotic arm is a marketable technology that can differentiate your facility from the competition that's jockeying to capitalize on the skyrocketing demand for knee replacements, which is expected to jump by 700% over the next 30 years.

Surgeons who perform conventional knee replacements grab jigs, cutting guides and saws to place as-precise-as-possible cuts in the tibia and femur where implant components are placed to hopefully restore the joint's natural alignment and balance.

"But there's plenty of room for human error in placing the jigs and cutting guides, and in making accurate cuts,— says Kim Stearns, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

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