A “tipping point” could arrive for digital instrumentation in orthopedic surgery


December 16, 2020

1 min read

Source / Disclosures


DJ Berry. The digital instrumentation revolution is coming to TJA: When are you on the bandwagon? Presented at: Current Concepts in Joint Replacement Winter Meeting; December 8-12, 2020 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Berry reports that he receives royalties from DePuy Synthes; receives research support from DePuy Synthes, Smith & Nephew, Stryker and Zimmer Biomet; has stock or stock options and receives advisory fees from Bodycad; is part of the board of directors of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Mayo Clinic and Foundation for Orthopedic Research and Education; and is the elected president of the International Hip Society.

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While some surgeons are reluctant to rely on digital technology, a “tipping point” could arise for the use of digital instrumentation in total joint replacement, according to a joint replacement specialist.

“Instrumentation and digital tools are reaching maturity. They spend expensive, slow [and] no better to simpler, more precise [and] more efficient,” Daniel J. Bay, MD, from the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Mayo Clinic – Rochester, said in his presentation at the Winter Meeting on Current Joint Replacement Concepts. “My prediction is … in the next 2 to 5 years everything will be different and many arthroplasty instruments will have a digital component,” he added.

With an influx of surgeons who have grown up as “digital natives,” the receptivity of surgeons has increased, according to Berry. Even surgeons who are not “digital natives” are increasingly comfortable with digital devices in everyday life, he said.

Daniel J. Berry

Daniel J. Bay

In addition, the technology has improved. Digital instrumentation costs go down, and increased efficiency and intuitiveness allow more time to learn and less time to configure, Berry added.

However, surgeons need to evaluate new technologies in a systemic way, he said. The technology may be ready for practice if it fixes a real and important clinical problem, such as outliers in the position of acetabular components or problems with alignment of knee components, he added.

Berry also stressed that this technology should make tasks simpler, not more complex, and surgeons should anticipate the risks and disadvantages.

“The tipping point is approaching,” Berry concluded. “Prepare. Be receptive, but be smart.


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