How robots help orthopedic surgeons


You’ve probably heard of robotic orthopedic surgery, but what is it exactly? Don’t worry, robots don’t put on a show in the operating room. Surgeons control and execute the surgical plan while robots help with precision.

Over the past decade, robots have become important assistants in orthopedic operating rooms, and we will continue to see many more advancements in this area.

In fact, studies have shown that there are better results and benefits with robot-assisted surgeries.

Benefits of robot-assisted surgery

Using joysticks and foot controls, the surgeon can view the procedure through a 3D monitor.

After creating a CT scan of a patient’s knee, for example, robots can produce a 3D model that shows where the total knee should be placed. If a surgeon is about to saw the bone a millimeter or more outside the intended limit, the robot will correct the positioning.

Studies also show that these more precise procedures lead to fewer errors and less blood loss. Robotic surgery also leads to shorter hospital stays and faster recovery in the first few weeks after surgery.

Robot-assisted surgeries are also slightly less likely to cause postoperative complications than laparoscopies. About 8% of robotic operations resulted in complications, compared to 9% of conventional laparoscopies.

What are robots doing in the operating room?

The most common robot-assisted FDA approved orthopedic surgeries are:

Robots also perform a variety of tasks in the operating room, supervised by the surgeon. Some of these tasks include:

  • Joint modeling

  • Preoperative planning

  • Precise soft tissue manipulation

  • Precise osteotomy, or cutting and reshaping of bone.

The most important part of orthopedic replacement surgeries is the precision of the osteotomy, and robots can perform these tasks with millimeter precision.

Using 3D technology, robots can ensure that a patient’s joint is balanced and that the range of motion fits their body perfectly.

And that “extra pair of hands” can help surgeons keep their hands clean and extend their careers.

Surgical robotics training

Doctors spend a certain number of hours during their residency and fellowship to be qualified to use robotics in the orthopedic operating room. They must also complete a certification, online course, and lab work for each type of replacement.

Even though robotic surgery is performed by surgeons – not robots – robotic technology can help surgeons be as precise as possible with their patients and lead their patients to the best possible outcome.

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