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Archive December 2019 XX, No. 12

Do You Need a Robot to Replace Knees?

Some orthopedic surgeons say the technology noticeably improves outcomes. Others say it simply makes post-op X-rays look better.

Daniel Cook

Daniel Cook, Editor-in-Chief


Yuppy Photo
A CUT ABOVE Kim Schaap, MD (right), says performing joint replacements robotically takes the guesswork out of even the most demanding cases.

Knee replacement specialists can measure twice and cut once with saws and drills and feel pretty confident that the implants they place will align perfectly with the femur and tibia to restore near-natural joint function. Or they can rely on robotic guidance and be 100% certain.

“No surgeon needs a robot, but they could certainly benefit from using one,” says Michael Suk, MD, JD, MPH, MBA, FACS, chair of the Geisinger Musculoskeletal Institute in Scranton, Pa. “The purpose of the robot isn’t to perform easy cases. It’s to make difficult cases easier.”

Use of robotics is trending upward as more surgeons buy into the technology, new platforms come to market and savvy patients seek out facilities that have invested in it. You could argue that robotic assistance is the inevitable future of knee replacement surgery thanks to the many clinical benefits it provides.

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