Computer-Assisted Joint Replacement Surgery

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What are computer-assisted and robot-assisted joint replacement surgeries?

Computer-assisted surgery (CAS) and robot-assisted surgery are general terms representing a collection of “enabling technologies” for joint replacement surgery. Broadly, these technologies can be divided into the following categories:

Why are these enabling technologies used for joint replacement?

During hip or knee replacement surgery, correct positioning of the implanted joint and appropriate soft tissue tensioning and balancing are critical to the short-term and long-term success of the joint replacement.

Enabling technologies allow the surgeon to achieve more precise component positioning and joint stability during the following procedures:

Do these technologies perform the surgery for the surgeon?

The short answer is no. Dr. McLawhorn uses these technologies to improve the accuracy of surgery, but he very much remains in control of your entire procedure. None of these devices are able to perform a surgery without direct surgeon control.

The soft tissue dissection and closure are performed by hand. Enabling technologies are used to guide reshaping and cutting the bone and implanting the prosthetic components. Sensor-guided technologies provide precise feedback to Dr. McLawhorn about the soft tissues around the operated joint, allowing him to selectively tighten or loosening ligaments and tendons to improve joint function and stability.

What are the advantages of computer-assisted joint replacement surgery?

There are many potential advantages to using computer-assisted technology during joint replacement surgery, including:

  • Higher level of accuracy positioning new joint
  • Less likely to have joint mal-alignment
  • Improved soft tissue balance and joint stability
  • Less likely limb length differences
  • Potentially reduced risk for dislocation
  • Lower implant wear possibly
  • Lower risk for failed surgery and need for revision surgery potentially
  • Improved patient satisfaction

While many advanced technologies are designated “investigational” or “experimental”, Dr. McLawhorn believes that the devices he uses represent value to his patients and their outcomes. Many studies, including several performed by Dr. McLawhorn, have supported improved implant alignment and positioning when the implants are placed with robotics or navigation. Very large, long-term studies are needed to show benefits in dislocations, implant wear, and revision surgery.

If you are suffering from severe joint pain and think you may need computer-assisted or robotic joint replacement surgery, it is important to seek advice from an orthopedic specialist to accurately diagnose and treat your joint pain. Dr. McLawhorn is a hip and knee specialist at Hospital for Special Surgery serving patients in New York City, and Stamford, Connecticut. To learn more, call 203-705-2113 (CT) / 212-606-1065 (NYC) today or schedule an appointment by using the form on this page.

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