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How Robots Assist Doctors in Orthopedic Surgery

You’ve probably heard about orthopedic robotic surgery, but what is it, exactly? Don’t worry — robots aren’t running the show in the operating room. Surgeons are in control and execute the surgical plan while robots help with precision. 

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

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

Benefits of Robot-Assisted Surgery

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

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

What Do Robots Do in the Operating Room?

The FDA-approved orthopedic surgeries most often assisted by robots are: 

  • Total knee replacements
  • Total hip replacement
  • Total shoulder replacement
  • Total ankle replacement

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

  • Modeling of the joint
  • Preoperative planning
  • Precise soft tissue handling
  • Precise osteotomy, or cutting and reshaping bone. 

The most important part of orthopedic replacement surgeries is the precision of the osteotomy, and robots can complete these tasks within a millimeter of accuracy. 

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

And this “extra pair of hands” can help surgeons preserve their own hands and extend their careers. 

Training for Surgical Robotics

Doctors complete a certain number of hours during their residency and fellowship to be qualified to use robotics in the orthopedic operating room. They also must complete a certification, an online class 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 exact as possible with their patients and lead their patients to the best outcome possible.

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