Orthopaedic surgeons Dr Paul Rowe and Dr Yusuf Hassan have performed the first two robotic knee replacement surgeries of its kind in the country at Victoria and Mitchells Plain District Hospital in the Western Cape.

The robotic technology simplifies the operation for the orthopaedic surgeons and provides an accurate mapping of the implant area and the precise cutting zone of the patient’s knee while in theatre.

The robotic machine works in conjunction with the surgeon’s hand to provide an accurate assessment of the knee using a calibrated optical probe and creates a virtual model of the knee. The system guides the doctor in selecting the implant size that best fits the patient’s anatomy before inserting the knee implant.

The robotic procedure takes approximately one and a half hours in theatre before the knee implant is inserted.

Earlier this year Dr Hassan underwent training on how to use the technology from a key opinion leader on Navio Robotics in France.

“This revolutionary technology allows you to template the patient’s anatomy before making the bone cuts, and it allows you to decide where to precisely place the implants,” said Dr Hassan.

The benefits of using robotics is that it reduces the amount of errors made in a manual operation, less blood loss is experienced and it provides immediate electronic feedback on the success rate of the procedure.

The rehabilitation process is also quicker, and within a day or two after surgery the patient will start showing signs of healing and movement with the guidance of medical professionals.

“The robotic system is more accurate than a manual system, where after performing manual surgery one would have to wait and see the outcome of the surgery,” said Dr Rowe.

“The hope in the development of robotics is that it will be the next step for the future of orthopaedics, and we expect significant improvement because research is showing that the more accurately you place the implant, the longer the survival of the implant,” continued Dr Rowe.

“The Western Cape Department of Health continuously strives to lead the way with innovative surgical procedures and it is through partnerships with other healthcare organisations that we can provide better and improved healthcare for our patients,” said Western Cape Minister of Health, Nomafrench Mbombo.

Although robotic technology is seen and proven to be the future of orthopaedic surgery, feasibility research for future use of this machine is yet to be explored by the Department.

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