ROBOTIC KNEE SURGERY EXPLAINED
Modern surgical innovation is heralded by the introduction of Robotic Knee Surgery Procedures for complex painful knee issues affecting all populations. Debilitating Osteoarthritis of the knee affects elderly and middle aged alike, even professional sports athletes. With Robotic Knee Surgery, patients can expect a futuristic approach to help them get back on their feet. In this article we address the common questions about Robotic Knee Surgery that people may have before their operation.
Knee replacement surgery, which is medically known as arthroplasty is an extremely common medical operation. This form of operation is often performed on individuals who may be suffering from debilitating pain induced by meniscus tears, ligament tears or cartilage defects.
Osteoarthritis, which is a disease resulting in chronic degradation of joint cartilage, psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are all also common reasons for undergoing knee replacement surgery.
Knee replacement surgery consists of the replacement of a worn-out, damaged or disease affected knee with an artificial joint. This artificial joint once healed may increase mobility as well as reduce the overall amount of pain you feel, enabling you to complete your daily activities, movement and sports with greater ease.
How Do Orthopedic Surgeons Carry Out Robotic Knee Surgery?
When performing robotic surgery, surgeons utilize robotic systems in order to carry out any required surgical procedure or practice, which enhances the surgeons’ ability to perform open surgery as well as aiding in minimally invasive surgical procedures such as hernia repairs and colon procedures as well as several different types of cardiac surgeries. Robots can play several different roles depending on your surgical procedure.
For certain procedures, robots play a role in aiding the surgeon’s visualization of your body and the site of operation. However, surgeons are also able to carry out procedures through a remote manipulator. This allows the surgery to be performed by the surgeon using robot arms.
Procedures which operate in this way are extremely useful as they do not require the surgeon to be physically present, therefore if your surgery is extremely complex or niche this is of huge benefit to you due to some surgeries only having a small number of operating surgeons.
How do I Prepare for Robotic Knee Surgery?
The process of robotic knee surgery can vary depending on your circumstances, however, robotic knee surgery will typically last for a duration of between one and three hours. Before the surgery, you will typically be anaesthetized via an epidural (which means you will be awake during the surgery however you will experience no sensation from your waist down) or a general anaesthetic (which will involve you being asleep for the duration of your surgery).
A preoperative CT scan may be taken in order to provide the surgeon with an image of the area they will operate on. In order to create a map unique to your anatomy, a probe will feed 3D details of your knee into a computer, allowing the surgeon to create a specific surgical plan individual to you.
The tools used for cutting any damaged bone area responds intuitively to the predetermined map which means that only damaged bone will be removed pre-implant insertion. This operation will take more time than a traditional knee surgery to allow the surgeon time for mapping.
Post-Operative Care after Robotic Knee Surgery
You will be assisted to get up and walk by nurses and medical staff as soon as 12 hours post-operation. Due to the use of electronic equipment, robotic knee surgery is considered a minimally invasive procedure.
It is likely that you will experience a faster recovery period post-surgery due to less trauma and fewer incisions made to your knee which will enable you to perform weight-bearing activities and your usual movements sooner, with less pain and discomfort.
You may have to use a frame or crutch to walk initially however it is common for individuals to use a walker for the first week to aid with getting around. A physiotherapist will give you exercises that will help you to strengthen your knee and to help avoid dislocating your new knee joint or any further complications.
How Long is the Recovery Time after Robotic Knee Surgery?
After undergoing knee surgery, you may stay in the hospital post-operation for a maximum of three days. The recovery period will take a maximum of two to three weeks, however, for a more accurate time estimate, it is important to consult with your medical practitioner. They will take into account factors such as your age, sex, medical history and past operations into account when providing a more accurate time frame.
Initially, you might find these movements uncomfortable whilst exercising or walking and you may experience swelling in your feet and legs. You will reside within the hospital for a maximum period of three days.
Compared to traditional knee surgery, after robotic knee surgery, you will have an expected post-surgery recovery period of two-three weeks whereas traditional knee replacement recovery can last anywhere from eight weeks to up to 12 weeks in total.
What are the Advantages of Robotic Knee Surgery?
Due to robotic surgery having greater procedural benefits such as in respect to mesh application, provides better optics and enables better equipment handling, it is likely that you will experience a much shorter recovery time, typically lasting just a few weeks after having a robot-assisted surgery.
There are many advantages that may persuade you to opt for robotic surgery over more traditional methods. One of the most significant advantages is the better success rate of robotic surgeries. Robotic surgery has a greater success rate and there is a significant difference between chances of a successful outcome for knee replacement surgery two years post-operation.
Robotic assistance allows the surgeon to perform the knee replacement with greater accuracy, they are able to isolate the impaired knee area more efficiently allowing for the new implant to be positioned better which means that your new knee is less likely to become loose and be worn down by friction.
What are the Risks of Robotic Knee Surgery?
On the other hand, one of the greatest disadvantages of having robotically assisted surgery is the immense cost of the operation. The combined cost of a highly trained surgeon as well as state of the art high tech equipment and medical machines can come at a very high price.
Robotic machines are not able to respond to verbal or linguistically based commands therefore operating these machines requires the operator to have highly specialized knowledge and experience using the machine.
Additionally, there is a great risk posed by an inexperienced doctor utilizing the machine as they run into issues related to programming the equipment or being unable to deal with system-related issues or failure.
The risks of robotic knee surgery are the same as those associated with traditional knee surgery however robotic knee surgery is associated with a lower risk likelihood due to the greater procedural accuracy. There may be potential side effects due to the use of anaesthesia.
These effects may be minor or major; minor effects may include experiencing the feeling of confusion or sickness however the chance of major complications such as death is extremely low.
Other side effects may include wound infection which can deepen and require additional surgery; however you will typically be prescribed a course of antibiotics to treat this. There may be unexpected bleeding into your knee joint or damage to the ligament, nerves or artery which surround it.
There is also a risk of experiencing deep vein thrombosis which involves clots forming within the leg veins as a result of reduced leg movement.
“Expert postoperative physiotherapy care will greatly decrease the risks of robotic knee surgery operations”
Dr Srikanth K N is a Consultant in Trauma and Orthopaedics
Is Robotic Knee Surgery Safe?
The greater accuracy means that your operation will be carried out with reduced incision which not only reduces the amount of blood loss due to a smaller area being operated on but will reduce the amount of scarring you have around the operated area post-operation.
The robotic machine will also mirror your normal knee motions, which will help the artificial joint to feel more natural to you post-surgery and reduce muscle strain.
Due to robotic knee replacement surgeries having a greater chance of having a successful outcome there is also a lower possibility that you will have to undergo further modification surgeries.
Is Robotic Knee Surgery Affordable?
Having a medical expert who is trained to use specialized electronic instruments or an institution or hospital paying for staff training is extremely costly and can be a time-consuming process.
Due to the frequent improvements and new models which are created year upon year the cost of replacing old models due to equipment becoming obsolete alongside the previously highlighted factors increases the cost of your medical procedure exponentially.
However the additional gain from treating your painful knee issues with the latest futuristic medical technology, is a worthy investment. The cost of the procedure directly matches the appreciated value from lower surgical risks, shorter recovery time and the dedicated care from the highest tier orthopedic specialist teams.
On average, robotic knee surgery tends to cost 25% more than traditional knee replacement surgery. One study reported that the median cost of a series of robotic knee surgeries equated to an average of $12,805. In comparison, the average for traditional treatment within the same study was $10,162.
The learning curve associated with learning how to manoeuvre the robot for surgery as well as disposable items used during procedures is higher for robot knee surgery.
Is Robotic Knee Surgery Better?
Based on current medical research, robotic knee surgery has been found to have a greater success and accuracy rate and lowered risks in comparison to traditional knee replacement surgery.
This is due to the difference in how the procedures are carried out, as robotic knee surgery allows a surgeon to work on the affected knee area and insert the artificial replacement joint with greater accuracy.
Robotic knee surgery is more personalized towards your individual anatomy and leg motion which means that the artificial replacement will feel more natural enabling you to get back to your normal lifestyle sooner after surgery as well as a reduced risk of needing further surgeries to alter the initial knee replacement surgery.
However, the technology which robotic knee surgery is based upon is still not well understood on a widespread scale and an inexperienced practitioner making an error while performing a technique can pose a risk to you.
Additionally, this form of surgery is not always available in every area or hospital which can make it harder for you to access.
Who Can Guide Me About Robotic Knee Surgery?
Robotic Knee surgery is not for everyone. Each patient must undergo a customized evaluation to assess their unique health status. If you or a loved one is suffering from chronic knee pain and is greatly affecting your way of life, the first step before contemplating any surgical knee replacement (or related procedure) is to consult with an expert orthopedic surgeon with dedicated experience with robotic surgery.
Through professional assessment to see if your unique health situation fulfills the criteria for robotic knee surgery, you will be well informed of the key concepts, issues, costs and expectations of a guided decision making process – for your wellbeing.
On behalf of ViOS, Inc, we are pleased to introduce to you Dr. Srikanth K N, an eminent orthopedic specialist with decades of high value experience in complex knee and hip disorders. He has certified expertise in robotic hip and knee procedures with many years of dealing with joint disorders which would have robbed countless people of a pain-free life.
We are pleased to host Dr. Srikanth’s virtual clinic for priority access for patients from around the world. Book online for a one-to-one encrypted telemedicine session with him, where you can share your health issues, fears, queries and expectations about robotic knee surgeries. He will educate and guide you to make the right decision, that is right for you.
Let’s Ask the Experts
Dr. Ismail Sayeed
Dr. Sayeed is the Medical Director of ViOS, Inc. He is a deeply committed physician entrepreneur & medical blog writer. While building the global infrastructure of the VIOS Clinic, he is dedicated to educate people on the potential of specialist telemedicine for managing chronic diseases.
Read more about him in his author bio