The 21st century is the age of the robot. Applications in manufacturing and transport are impressive, but robotic assisted surgery could be life-changing. While sceptics, prophets of doom and conspiracy theorists still like to warn of the threat of an imminent robot apocalypse, the many existing and potential benefits of robotics remain undeniable. Furthermore, robots are now playing an increasingly significant role in several aspects of healthcare, an area once considered the exclusive domain of humans.
For example, Interesting Engineering, an informative publication for professionals, recently featured an article describing the use of robots in China to cater to the needs of its ageing population. Asia’s new powerhouse has more than a hundred startups currently engaged in developing robots for companionship, rehabilitation and nursing.
Impressive or not, even the most ardent technophiles might think twice before allowing a humanoid robot to remove their appendix or even suture the resulting abdominal wound. They might, therefore, be relieved to learn that such prospects remain distant. Nevertheless, last year, a team at Johns Hopkins successfully employed an autonomous robot to perform unassisted soft tissue surgery on an animal, a worldwide first.
Some Benefits of Robotic Assisted Surgery
The specific benefits of this technology over conventional methods will vary between surgical disciplines. However, the following general advantages apply to all:
- Reduced post-surgical pain.
- A lower risk of excess blood loss.
- Less chance of post-operative infections.
- Smaller incision scars and fewer of them.
- Faster recovery and less time spent in hospital.
The Use of Robotic Assisted Surgery in Orthopaedics
It’s not yet time for orthopaedic specialists to discard their scalpels and scrubs, abandon the OR and settle for a life of consultations and more time on the tennis court or golf course. Nevertheless, many have already begun enjoying the benefits of a robotic assistant.
One prominent orthopaedic surgeon in South Africa who has welcomed and embraced this innovative approach is Dr Jan de Vos, head of the orthopaedic team at the Wilgers Life Hospital in Pretoria and a leading specialist in arthroscopic procedures and joint replacement (arthroplasty).
One of the most challenging aspects of knee replacement surgery is the need to align the prosthetic components as accurately as possible. Even a minor misalignment can lead to instability, pain and swelling. In severe cases, excessive wear can cause joint failure, requiring revision surgery.
To overcome this challenge and maximise the benefits of total knee replacement to his patients, Dr De Vos now performs robotic assisted surgery with the help of ROSA (Robotic Surgery Assistant). ROSA utilises a personalised solution planning feature to convert a 2-dimensional X-ray image into a digital 3D replica of the joint anatomy to create an operating plan to guide the surgeon’s hand during the alignment process. Robotic assistance from ROSA ensures 100% of results are within 3º of the target, far more than is possible with an unassisted procedure.
Arranging Robotic Assisted Surgery for Your Total Knee Replacement
The skills of the orthopaedic team have earned Wilgers Life Hospital the status of a national and international referral centre for arthroscopy and arthroplasty. If your GP has recommended a knee replacement or similar orthopaedic procedure, contact us to learn more and book your life-changing surgery today.