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How Computers And 3D Imaging Aid Robotic Knee Surgery And Why You Still Need A Human Surgeon

by Brett Mills

Until technology took a firm hold in all things medical, knee surgery was one of the most difficult and painful things to do, both for the surgeon and for the patient. Now there is robotic knee surgery, which is less painful and far less complicated because of the robotic surgeon, computers and 3D imaging. While it is easy to understand what the robotic surgeon does in this procedure, you may not know how computers and 3D imaging contribute. Here is how your human surgeon uses these two pieces of technology to guide the robotic surgeon.

The 3D Imaging

Three-dimensional images are taken of your knee. These have real-time views of your knee in stationary bent positions as well as moving pictures. They provide your human surgeon with enough information to see what is wrong with your knee, what needs to be replaced, and how to position the prosthesis so that it is the perfect fit just for you. These images are then downloaded into a surgical computer so that they can be used to program the robotic surgeon.

The Surgical Computer

The surgical computer has a direct link, either by cables or by WiFi, to the robotic surgeon. Using the 3D images taken of your knee, your human surgeon calculates where the incisions need to go, how to extract the knee cap or soft structures of the knee, and how to position prosthetics, which typically only have up to three degrees of proper placement, or they may slip out of place and you would have to repeat your surgery. Thankfully, once your human surgeon makes all of these calculations and diagrams for the procedure, he or she only has to upload them into the robotic surgeon, and the robotic surgeon is ready to do everything your human surgeon would have done.

Why You Still Need a Human Surgeon

The human surgeon still needs to be present before, during and after surgery. The robotic surgeon needs the human one to do all of of the programming, or the robotic surgeon cannot do its job. The robotic surgeon also typically does not do stitches or close the wounds, so you would still need a human surgeon for that. Once the robotic surgeon has completed all of the steps in the pre-programmed procedure, it shuts down. If there is a problem with the robot during surgery, or complications occur during surgery, you would need your human surgeon to take over completely. However, the robotic surgeon is still an excellent option for knee surgery because of its precision and ability to decrease infection, decrease down-time after surgery and complete procedures with smaller and less painful incisions.