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Robotics, 3-D models used for precise knee implant placement

Dr. Hunter Hsu, an orthopedic surgeon at AnMed Health Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, specializing in direct anterior total hip replacements and knee replacements, uses robotic-assisted technology for partial and total knee replacement surgery.

The robot allows the surgeon to place the implant more precisely, which produces better results, he said.

“People ask if the robot actually does the surgery itself, and the answer to that is no,” he said. “The robot is guided by the surgeon’s hand. Unless my hand is on the robot, it is not doing anything. It’s not making any automated movements on its own.”

Knee replacement surgery is an option for patients with painful arthritis or degeneration from an injury that does not respond to other treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, cortisone or lubricating injections.

Most patients who have the surgery Robotics, 3-D models used for precise knee implant placement are older, but age does not determine whether an orthopedic surgeon recommends total or partial knee replacement. Pain and disability do.

“A patient must be a candidate for the surgery based on their own circumstances, but everyone who is a candidate for knee replacement surgery is a candidate for robotic surgery,” Dr. Hsu said.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), total joint replacement is a common elective surgery in the United States.

More than 790,000 knee replacements are performed each year in the United States, and researchers at the University of Pennsylvania predict that number will rise to 1.28 million by 2030, as reported by AAOS. During knee replacement surgery, the surgeon removes the bones’ damaged surfaces in the joint and replaces them with artificial implants.

Before surgery, the patient undergoes a computed tomography (CT) scan of the joint. Specialized software develops a three-dimensional model of the joint. From that information, the surgeon creates a personalized joint replacement plan that determines implant size, placement and alignment, Hsu said.

Dr. Hsu said having a plan based on a 3-D model of the joint being replaced allows him to cut less bone, protect more healthy tissue and place the implant more accurately.

“Before the patient even gets to the operating room, we essentially have a road map of what we need to do to get a good result,” he said.

During surgery, Dr. Hsu controls the robotic arm and can make adjustments if needed.

“It all comes down to having the joint replacement last as long as possible,” he said. “Studies have shown that if they are implanted outside of a specified range, there is a higher failure rate. They don’t last as long. Being able to place an implant exactly where I want it to go achieves a balanced and stable knee, which results in a better outcome and a happier patient.”

While each patient recovers differently, studies have shown robotic-assisted knee replacements need less recovery time in the hospital after surgery and have reduced pain levels and need for pain medication, Dr. Hsu said.

“I think we’re going to realize that this is a better way to achieve overall good results,” he said.” People must stay active and stay healthy, and being able to help people do that through robotic-assisted total or partial knee replacement is gratifying.”

For more information, visit, or to schedule an appointment, contact AnMed Health Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, 864.716.6140.

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