Technology Improves Knee Replacements
John Hur M.D.
Nearly 250,000 knee replacement surgeries are performed in the U.S. each year. Additionally, it’s estimated that the demand for surgeries will grow as our life expectancy increases and as more of us remain physically active later in life.
As a result, researchers have begun to identify ways to improve the techniques and methods used during knee replacement surgery. These advancements aim to decrease the likelihood of repeat surgeries and provide patients of all ages with quicker recovery time and a better quality of life. A recent advancement that I use on all of my patients is computer-assisted surgery (CAS).
Below are answers to general questions that I often receive regarding the risks and benefits of CAS as well as an overview of the procedure.
How does computer-assisted surgery work?
Think of it this way. Computer-assisted surgery (CAS) works like your car’s GPS. By using a variety of infrared cameras, digital imaging and tracking devices, the computer allows a surgeon to instantly track the precise position of the patient’s leg, the implant and surgical instruments at all times during the procedure. This technology allows the surgeon to position each patient’s implant based on their individual knee geometry. CAS brings together the benefits of minimally invasive surgery with computer-guided placement, practically eliminating implant misalignments, reducing overall recovery times, and enabling surgeons to operate with smaller incisions and greater precision.
How is computer-assisted surgery different from traditional knee replacement surgery?
A surgeon performing traditional knee replacement surgery relies on skill and experience to align the implant. A surgeon performing computer-assisted knee replacement surgery combines skill with science. The computer enhances visualization during the procedure, which allows the surgeon to make the smallest incision possible and critical measurements that are not possible without the assistance of a computer. This technology causes fewer traumas to underlying muscle and soft tissue, and results in a small scar, less post-operative pain, shorter hospital stays and a quicker return to an active lifestyle.
Why is alignment important in knee replacement surgery?
To ensure that you get the best wear and performance from your implant, proper alignment is key. When a knee implant is placed inaccurately, it can wear faster, which decreases its life span and increases the likelihood of additional surgeries.
Am I a candidate for computer-assisted surgery?
In most cases, any patient requiring knee replacement surgery can benefit from computer-assisted surgery. However, in some cases the weight and size of a patient can affect the length of the incision. Trauma to the surrounding tissue will still be reduced when compared to traditional surgery.