Robotics used in first knee op

2017-03-22 08:12
This cutting tool is linked to a robotic technology system that calibrates the exact measurements pre-selected by the surgeon. The technology allows doctors to cut away only diseased bone and place the replacement based on the patient’s own anatomy.

This cutting tool is linked to a robotic technology system that calibrates the exact measurements pre-selected by the surgeon. The technology allows doctors to cut away only diseased bone and place the replacement based on the patient’s own anatomy. (Samantha Lee)

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New robotic technology will help doctors perform more accurate knee replacement surgeries resulting in better recovery for patients.

Following the first surgery at Victoria Hospital by orthopaedic surgeon Dr Paul Rowe, Dr Yusuf Hassan performed the second robotic knee replacement surgery at Mitchell’s Plain District Hospital last Tuesday.

The technology was a demonstration of the future of orthopaedic surgery and the two operations were a first for the country.

Hassan says: “There are a few advantages [of using this technology]. It allows you to template the tibia and femur in operation and by templating you are recreating the patient’s own anatomy. Once you have templated you can then decide where you want to place your implants.”

Another benefit of the technology is reduced risk and errors. This also results in a quicker rehabilitation and less blood loss during surgery.

The robotic system only allows the surgeon to cut away the bone sections mapped out and will switch off when it has passed that section. This means a less invasive surgery with less soft tissue and healthy bone damaged.

Hassan performed a uni-knee replacement, which means only half of the knee joint was replaced.

“This technology allows you as a surgeon, using the technology and patient’s own anatomy, to place the implants exactly where you want them. And then, not only does it allow you to put the implants where you feel necessary, but it also allows you to assess the soft tissue components,” he says.

He and Rowe were both trained to perform the surgeries in France, where the technology was created. Hassan says it was also important for them to learn how to do the replacements manually in case the technology failed during the operation.

“This is a steep learning curve and you have to start with the basics. I started last year doing these uni-knee replacements and I know the system, so should the robot fail for whatever technical reason, I can still relate back to the conventional cutting method,” says Hassan.

Hassan has been a specialist in knee surgeries for the past two years.

Provincial health minister Dr Nomafrench Mbombo says: “Provincial health continuously strives to lead the way with innovative surgical procedures and it is through partnerships with other healthcare organisations that we can provide better healthcare for our patients.”

Although robotic technology is seen and proven to be the future of orthopaedic surgery, feasibility research for future use of this machine is yet to be done by the department.

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