Knee replacement surgery using computer assisted navigation

What is computer assisted navigation?

Computer assisted navigation uses computer technology to guide surgeons as they perform joint replacement surgeries.

Computer assisted navigation can be used to aid in total knee replacement surgery. This is done through the use of a computer navigation machine, which allows the surgeon to digitally monitor each step of the surgery on a screen. The position of individual bones is tracked in a 3D space with real time infra-red wave communication.

Computer navigated knee replacements are performed in a selected number of hospitals in the UK. It’s important to stress that computer navigation acts as a guide for the surgeon – it’s not the same as robotic surgery, where the computer helps control the movements made by the surgical instruments.

How does computer assisted navigation work?

It’s essentially a ‘mini GPS system’ used by the surgeon during a knee replacement. It uses infra-red technology to ‘align the components properly’ and allows the surgeon to create and execute a surgical plan that will lead to minimal tissue disruption and less bone removal.

What are the benefits of computer assisted navigation?

Computer navigated surgery improves the precision of implant placement, alignment, soft tissue balancing and restoring mechanical axis of the lower limb. This can give an improved functional result for the patient. It can also enhance surgical performance and help reduce errors.

Your consultant surgeon will be able to make precise individualised cuts in bones and position the prosthesis in the desired position. Any adjustments can be done during surgery, as opposed to conventional surgery where the objective measurements are on post-op evaluation.

Another benefit is that the cuts are individually catered to the specific anatomy and needs of each individual patient. This can also reduce blood loss and embolic complications.

Some of the main benefits include:

  • Reduced risk of revision surgery
  • Reduced risk of outliers (incorrect positioning)
  • Reduced risk of leg length inequality in hip surgery
  • Reduced risk of fat embolus and blood loss in knee surgery
  • Reduced incision size and soft tissue damage

All benefits and risks will be discussed in full with you prior to the procedure.

Who would benefit from computer assisted navigation surgery?

Any patient undergoing knee replacement will benefit from computer assisted surgery. In particular, complex cases, such as severe deformity, obesity or previous long bone fractures.

Is recovery any different than a traditional surgery?

Recovery should be no different to traditional surgery. You will start walking with the aid of crutches/frame the day after surgery and you’ll need a walking aid for anything up to six weeks.

*The contents of this article were contributed to by Orthopaedic and Trauma Consultant, Mr Reza Jenabzedah.

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