Robotic-assisted surgery is a major step up in precision and surgical quality, but it’s still somewhat poorly understood. When I discuss robotic-assisted surgery with my patients, their first reaction is often: “Is the Terminator going to operate on me?!” And my answer is: No…I’m going to operate on you. The robotic-arm just holds the tools. In surgery, the robotic arm is essentially an extension of me; the actions the RIO arm takes, under my direction, make knee replacement surgeries a lot easier – both for you and for me.
So what does all this mean for orthopedic surgery? Knee and hip replacement surgeries require a very high degree of precision when preparing and placing artificial knees and hips. In fact, precise placement of these implants is one of the keys to a long-lasting replacement joint. The arrival of MAKOplasty surgery a few years ago gave orthopedic surgeons a much better option for partial knee replacements, as opposed to the old hammer and chisel method. The robotic-assisted MAKOplasty system for knees allows me to use CT scans to visualize the joint before surgery and gives me a 3-D view during surgery; this gives me a much better view of what’s going on in the joint, and allows me to custom-shape the joint for an implant with much greater ease.
The really interesting thing about modern robotic-assisted surgery is that the robotic arm can guide surgical tools far more precisely than even the most highly trained human surgeon. The human hand is not as steady as the robotic arm, and robotic-assisted devices, such as the RIO, can perform the same actions over and over with perfect accuracy. This consistency and precision mean that implants can last much longer.
We’re not yet to the point where the Terminator runs the surgery. Actually, we’re not even close. But we are in a place where robot-assisted orthopedic surgery can make a real difference in the quality of these surgical procedures. The key question to ask yourself is: Do I feel more confident about my surgery with robotic assistive devices as an assistant? The answer is YES!