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Sep 28, 2015

What is Robotic Surgery?


We all know technology is advancing our world in ways our great grandparents could have only imagined. But with technological changes happening daily, what do we really know and what are we misinterpreting?

A new term that you might have heard is ‘Robotic Surgery’. In the surgical world this term is used frequently for a variety of different surgeries from orthopaedics to cardiology but the term can be hard to understand as a patient. Recent controversy in the media regarding this topic has caused public misconception. Patients might think robots are performing their surgery or that the surgeon won’t be onsite during the procedure. In Orthopaedic surgery, this is not the case. With that being said, it is important to realise that there are many questions a patient may have about robotic surgery and it is important for the surgeon to explain exactly how procedures work during consultation.

Why Use Robotic Technology in Surgery?

Robotic surgery was first developed to overcome the limitations of conventional surgery such as using smaller incisions, three dimensional magnification and improved ergonomics, which give the surgeon better control over the surgical instruments and a better view of the surgical site. With proper use, robotic assisted methods improve accuracy and can help to decrease blood loss, cause less pain and have a quicker healing time for the patient [11].

Specifically in Orthopaedic surgery, the term robotic surgery implies the surgeon will have a robotic arm to assist him or her whilst performing the surgery. In essence the robotic arm is a sophisticated tool the surgeon uses for the critical elements of the procedure.

Robotic Assistance for Knee and Hip Replacement

Robotic assistance in knee and hip replacement enables highly accurate implant placement and alignment based on each patient's specific anatomy [1].

How it Works

The surgeon-controlled robotic arm provides tactile feedback (sense of touch), 3-D visualization and auditory guidance to facilitate planned cuts for accurate implant fit, while conserving the bone.


                       Fig 1. Hip                                                                    Fig 2. Knee

What is the Benefit of Robotic Assisted Joint Replacement?

According to international research the robotic-assisted arm implantation resulted in two to three times more accurate unicompartmental knee implantation than manual implantation [1-5] and four to six times more accurate hip replacement surgery than manually placed cups [7].

Component position is well recognised as an important predictor of long term implant survivorship thus the expectation is robotic assisted joint replacement reduces the risks associated with component malposition. However, it is important to note that robotic surgery is still a recent technological advancement and studies are not available to measure long term results at this present time.

If you are interested about robotic assisted procedures you can learn more at or call to make an appointment at (07) 5589 0251.  


1. Citak M, Suero EM, Citak M, Dunbar NJ, Branch SH, Conditt MA, Banks SA, Pearle AD. Unicompartmental knee arthroplasty: Is robotic technology more accurate than conventional technique? Knee. 2013;20(4): 268-71. doi: 10.1016/j.knee.2012.11.001. Epub 2012 Nov 30.

2. Dunbar NJ, Roche MW, Park BH, Branch SH, Conditt MA, Banks SA. Accuracy of dynamic tactile-guided unicompartmental knee arthroplasty. J Arthroplasty.2012;27(5):803-8 e1.

3. Lonner JH. Robotic arm-assisted unicompartmental arthroplasty. In, Master techniques in orthopedic surgery: Knee arthroplasty. Lotke PA and Lonner JH, Editors. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 2008. Philadelphia, PA.

4. Lonner JH. Robotic arm-assisted unicompartmental arthroplasty. Seminars in Arthroplasty. 2009;20(1): 15-22.

5. Pearle AD, O’Loughlin PF, Kendoff DO. Robot-assisted unicompartmental knee arthroplasty. J Arthroplasty. 2010 Feb;25(2):230-7. doi: 10.1016/j.arth.2008.09.024. Epub 2008 Dec 4.

6. Sinha RK. Outcomes of robotically assisted unicompartmental arthroplasty. Am J Orthop. 2009;XXXVIII(2 Suppl):20-2.

7. Nawabi DH, Conditt MA, Ranawat AS, Dunbar NJ, Jones J, Banks S, Padgett DE. Haptically guided robotic technology in total hip arthroplasty – A cadaveric Investigation. Proc Inst Mech Eng H. 2013 Mar;227(3):302-9.

8. Argenson JN, Parratte S, Bertani A, Aubaniac JM, Lombardi AV Jr, Berend KR, Adams JB, Lonner JH, Mahoney OM, Kinsey TL, John TK, Conditt MA. The new arthritic patient and arthroplasty treatment options. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2009 Aug;91(Suppl 5): 43-8. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.I.00406.

9. Coon TM, Driscoll M, Horowitz S, Conditt MA. Robotically assisted UKA is more accurate than manually instrumented UKA. 23rd Conference of the Society for Medical Innovation and Technology (SMIT), 2011, Tel Aviv, Israel.

10. Watanabe T, Banks SA, Kreuzer S, Leffers K, Muneta T, Conditt MA, Jones J. Deep flexion kinematics with robotic modular knee arthroplasty. International Congress for Joint Reconstruction, 2012, San Diego, CA.

11. Lang, JE; Mannava, S; Floyd, AJ; Goddard, MS; Smith, BP; Mofidi, A; Seyler, T; Jinnah, RH.

Robotic Systems in Orthopaedic Surgery, J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2011 Oct;93B(10):1296-9.

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