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News & Events What is a Robotic Total Knee Replacement?

What is a Robotic Total Knee Replacement?

One of the most exciting aspects of being an orthopedic surgeon is working with new, leading-edge technologies to safely and effectively alleviate patients’ pain, improve quality of life, and return patients to the activities they enjoy. One of these new technologies is robotic total knee replacement.

Robotic total knee replacement (TKR) refers to the way in which the surgeon performs the surgery. It does not mean you will have a robot in your knee. It is a ‘smart tool’ used by your surgeon to accurately measure and replace your knee. The same implants used in traditional knee replacement are used in the robotic knee replacement.

What does the robot do?

The robotic total knee is performed by your surgeon. As in traditional knee replacement, your surgeon makes an incision on the front of the knee to access the bones of the knee joint. The ‘robot’ is an arm that attaches to the standard operating room table (Sorry, no C3-PO type robots are used). Your knee anatomy is then registered with a computer that sits next to the bed. A three-dimensional model of your knee is created on the screen using the computer software. This allows your surgeon to examine your specific bony anatomy, size of your knee, alignment, and the stability of your knee during range of motion. Using this information, your surgeon creates a knee replacement plan that fits you. The robotic arm is then brought into the surgical field and helps align your surgeon’s tools to remove the arthritic bone precisely. Your surgeon is still performing all aspects of your surgery at the bedside just like with traditional knee replacement.

Is robotic total knee replacement better than traditional total knee replacement?

As you can imagine, everyone has different knee anatomy and alignment. This robotic tool allows your surgeon to make a total knee replacement that fits the patient, rather than trying to fit the patient to the total knee system. And while short term data has shown the robotic TKR to be safe and effective, it has not shown clinical superiority over traditional TKR. However, this was based on the original technology. As the robotic total knee replacement technology advances, we expect to see improved outcomes, quicker recoveries, and longer lasting total knee replacements.

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