Healthcare technology in orthopedic surgery is exciting and rapidly evolving. In my few short years as an orthopedic surgeon, I have seen the evolution of the Direct Anterior Approach for total hip replacements and the implementation of robotic assistance in total knee replacements. These technological advances promise faster recoveries and lower risk of complications. My personal history has prepared me to keep up with the latest trends in orthopedic surgery.
As a millennial, I have always been good with computers. Growing up, I taught myself how to program computers and find tech to be interesting and exciting. As someone who has needed to wear hearing aids my whole life, I have seen how the evolution of hearing aids has allowed me to hear much better now than I did as a child. There are even hearing aids that exist now that can translate different languages, or play music from your phone! I understand how much of a difference technology can make in my life, and I know it can make a difference in my patient’s lives.
As a young orthopedic surgeon, I have been blessed to have received the latest training in hip and knee reconstruction. I have presented new research at national meetings, keeping abreast of the latest technological updates. I think it is important to travel and see what other surgeons are doing across the nation and bring those new technologies back home to Hawaii.
When I first became involved in hip and knee replacements, most patients needed to stay in the hospital for three days after surgery. Now, many people can go home on the same day. Ceramic and polyethylene components allow for implants that last longer than before. Advances in anesthesia, surgical technique, and patient preparation have allowed us to achieve what many surgeons believed to be impossible just 10 years ago.
The hottest item in the world of hip and knee reconstruction right now is robot-assisted joint surgery. Every major company in orthopedics has invested in developing its own robotic system. As we are continuing to perfect the ability to put these implants in, patients can have their implants last longer and recover faster.
Many surgeons continue to use the same techniques that they learned when they were fresh out of school, even twenty years later. There are others of us, who adapt newer technologies quickly. Some of these technologies are adopted too quickly and fail quicker than expected. A quick google search on metal-on-metal hip replacements will reveal the failures of not having enough oversight when adopting newer technology. A careful approach to choosing which of the newer technologies to adopt is required.
Robotic-assisted joint replacements do not introduce a significant amount of risk and utilize the same knee replacement implant. The earliest robot-assistant in joint replacement was done in 1992 with the ROBODOC system. Over the last few decades, newer systems have hit the market, refining our ability to appropriately position our implants. Now patients require less soft-tissue dissection to undergo a hip or knee replacement. Our implants can be placed in a very precise position that is not possible without robotics. The newest generation of robotic-assisted joint replacements has worked through many of the problems found in earlier systems that caused inefficiencies and inability to appropriately implement.
Technology has allowed us to enter an exciting time in joint replacements. Our implants are now lasting longer and our recoveries are less painful. With robotic joint replacements, we can bring the latest technology and improve outcomes in our patients.
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