Guide on Robot Guided Orthopedic Surgery – Dr Robert Fink

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Robotic surgery, or robot-guided/assisted surgery, allows doctors to perform a wide array of procedures to ensure more accuracy. This type of operation is usually associated with minimally invasive surgeries whose goal is to tackle a certain problem without affecting the surrounding muscles and tissues, thus decreasing pain. Robotic surgery is widely used in different categories including orthopedics. What is the purpose of robot-guided operation in orthopedics? Is it effective? The text below will give you all the answers.

The goal of robot-guided orthopedic surgery

As mentioned above the primary aim of the minimally invasive orthopedic surgery is to maximize patient function and speed up the recovery process. This type of surgical procedure doesn’t require long incision and a patient doesn’t end up with a big and highly noticeable scar in the end. Another advantage of this operation is less blood loss and reduced risk of infections and complications.


When it comes to orthopedics, the focus is on minimizing trauma to the body and allowing a patient to make a full recovery in a shorter period of time. The field of minimally invasive surgery has evolved immensely during the last 15 to 20 years. Doctors continually work on new methods and techniques to improve the way this operation is performed. Robot-guided orthopedic surgery is one of those techniques. This method offers a broad range of benefits for both patients and surgeons and requires highly accurate state-of-the-art technology. As a result, a patient doesn’t endure the excruciating pain that is characteristic for open or invasive surgery.

Types of robotic surgery

Not all robot-guided surgeries are the same. For example, they can be active or fully controlled, but also shared as control or semi-active as well. The latter refer to the cases when robot monitors surgeon performance and provides support and stability through active constraint.


Robotic surgeries can also be telesurgical wherein the surgeon performs the operation from a console that is distant to the operating table. Even the input to the robot can vary from statistical shape models (SSM) and active shape models (ASM) to the actual imaging data of the patient.


How is robotic surgery performed?

Prior the surgery, a patient receives anesthesia. When it comes to orthopedic surgery, patients usually receive general anesthesia meaning they’re asleep during the procedure. The surgeon sits at a computer station and directs the movements of a robot. The robot performs the surgery using small tools that are attached to its arm.

The surgeon is the one who makes a small incision so the instruments can be inserted in the body. Thanks to a thin tube with camera or endoscope, a surgeon can see live, 3D images of the affected area and the entire procedure. This ensures greater accuracy and minimal risk of complications. Robotic surgery makes it easier to perform certain orthopedic procedures, especially when the affected areas are harder to reach.

It’s important to bear in mind that robotic surgery takes longer to complete than standard minimally invasive operation because setting up a robot requires more time.

Is orthopedic robot-guided surgery effective?

Robot-guided orthopedic surgery has become very popular, and many surgeons perform this approach. But the question remains whether it’s truly effective. To find the answer to that question, a team of scientists at the Imperial College London carried out the study whose primary objective was to analyze orthopedic robot surgery efficacy. They discovered that robotics technology has a tremendous potential to improve surgical outcomes by providing the surgeon with the greatest amount of accuracy and precision regardless of extended surgical training.

This type of operation gives the surgeon a greater deal of control over position and tool alignment. The research team concluded the study explaining that robot-guided orthopedic surgery has satisfactory results. Even the study from the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery found that robot-guided procedures have the potential of improving surgical outcomes.

Benefits of robotic surgery in orthopedics

This approach is associated with numerous advantages, including:

  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Faster recovery (depends on the condition or severity of injury and whether a patient follows doctor’s orders regarding rest and physical therapy)
  • Less blood loss
  • Less pain
  • Smaller scars
  • No damage to the surrounding joints, tissues, and muscles
  • Better long-term function


Robot-guided orthopedic surgery is yet another way of operating certain condition or injury in a noninvasive manner. The procedure is usually recommended for patients who can’t relieve pain with other treatments, and it’s more suitable for individuals who don’t have some severe condition or injury. Numerous studies have confirmed the efficacy of this approach, particularly speedy recovery. When it comes to healing process, it depends on the type of surgery and severity of the injury. Adhering to the physical therapy is an excellent way to speed things up.

By: Dr Robert Fink, Chicago IL Orthopedic Surgeon

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