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How knee and hip operations are becoming better – thanks to robots

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Mr Simon Jennings

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, BMI Clementine Churchill Hospital

Mr Craig White

Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon, BMI Woodlands Hospital

Robotics in the operating theatre isn’t something new, but even in the middle of a pandemic these small, handheld devices are helping to revolutionise joint pain in orthopaedics.

Two medical practitioners who currently use robotics in their surgeries are Mr Simon Jennings, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at the BMI Clementine Churchill Hospital and Mr Craig White, Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon at BMI Woodlands Hospital.

For Mr Jennings, his journey into robotics started several years ago. He says, “When I was first shown the sort of machines on offer it was nothing like I’d imagined. We all watch these movies with massive robots but actually the device is very small – I was amazed the first time I saw it in action.”

A minimally invasive approach

There’s good reason why medical professionals are getting excited over robotics, as not only do they re-calibrate in real-time, but are also perfect for reassuring patients who want a minimally invasive approach.

Mr Jennings explains, “Using robotics is a complete change in concept, although it’s the same operation it’s being done in a totally different way. There is less cutting and, in my experience, the device is far more accurate than the old fashioned system of jigs as now we can fine-tune to fit the patient. It’s made a knee replacement an absolute joy for me as I get to do it spot on and the patient is up and about much quicker.”

If you stray out of the zone, the system won’t allow you to engage the tool. The robot will literally stop you from leaving the zone.

Mr Craig White

Improving outcomes

For Mr White, the feedback the hip navigation surgery allows means from his personal experience the patient often has a better recovery and overall outcomes. He adds, “The navigation and robotics give you feedback visually on a screen – as well as audio feedback. If you stray out of the zone, the system won’t allow you to engage the tool. The robot will literally stop you from leaving the zone.”

Mr White also referenced the movies when it came to his robotic inspiration. “It’s certainly nothing like you imagine, this is more of a handheld tool. When I tell my patients, they often think I’ll be sat in a chair doing nothing but that’s not the case. And if the tool fails? Well, that’s easy, the surgeon will fall back on their years of experience and training. Robotics and navigational tools are just that – instruments to help gain better results.”

Both consultants believe that there will be better outcomes to come with the use of integrated robotics in orthopaedics, and in their experience so far it points to quicker recovery and higher patient satisfaction rates.1,2,3 For the world of orthopaedics, robotics has been revolutionary.

Disclaimer: These articles were produced by Mediaplanet and funded by Smith+Nephew.
Smith+Nephew is a portfolio medical technology company. These articles’ subject matter and contributors were proposed by Smith+Nephew but determined by Mediaplanet. The articles’ content represents solely the personal views of the contributors.

[1] Gregori A, Picard F, Bellemans J, Smith JR, Simone A. Handheld Precision Sculpting Tool for Unicondylar Knee Arthroplasy. A Clinical Review. Paper presented at: 15th EFORT Congress; 2014; London, United Kingdom.
[2] Smith JR, Picard F, Rowe PJ, Riches PE, Deakin AH. The Accuracy of a Robotically-Controlled Freehand Sculpting Tool for Unicondylar Knee Replacement. XXIV Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics; 4-9 August, 2013; Natal, Brazil
[3] Gustke K, Golladay G, Jerry G, et al. Increased satisfaction after total knee replacement using sensor-guided technology. Bone Joint J. 2014;96-B(10):1333-1338.

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