In our last blog we looked at how obesity has increased the need for joint replacement surgeries throughout the world. As a follow up, we are exploring the innovations taking place in today’s surgical suites with regard to joint replacement surgeries, specifically knee replacements.
Knee problems occur in many people. The knees support and stabilize the weight of the body and the bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments must work together for the knees to work properly. When one of these parts is damaged, diseased, or injured, movement is impeded or impossible without pain. Obesity puts greater stress on the knees leading to greater damage.
Modern surgical techniques are greatly improving the ability of surgeons to repair diseased and damaged knees. Knee surgery options include partial or total replacements with either standard or robotic surgery. Standard surgery relies on X-rays and the surgeon’s visual assessment to perform the replacement. In robotic surgery, 3D modeling replaces the manual pre-op calculations and in-surgery guesswork. Robotic surgery enables doctors to perform complex procedures with greater precision, control, and flexibility than with traditional techniques.
There are a few different robotic systems on the market today, but they all offer the surgeon increased precision when preparing joints and fitting metal implants. Improvements in imaging technology, visual camera connections, and simulations allow the surgeon instantaneous feedback on implant placement and results before the surgery is completed.
The benefits of robotic assisted knee surgery are many. The use of the robot removes uncontrollable factors that a surgeon may miss when performing traditional surgery. It increases the precision of the bone cuts and reduces the amount of time required for each surgery because much of the planning is done in advance.
Patients undergoing robot assisted knee replacement surgeries benefit as well. Often performed as an outpatient procedure, patients experience less pain, increased mobility, and a quicker return to normal activities.
The Baby Boomer Generation started the jogging craze in the 1970’s. The pressure placed on the knees from this activity can be detrimental. As the Baby Boomers reach their 60’s, and obesity rates continue to rise, the need for knee replacement surgeries will continue to grow. As more surgeons and centers move toward robot assistants, the outcomes for both the medical community and the patients will continue to improve.