What is robotic arm assisted surgery?

Medical technology is moving fast. Here's everything you need to know about robotic arm assisted surgeries and how they can benefit you.

Robots performing surgery may seem like something out of a sci-fi film. In reality, robots are fast becoming handy assistants in the operating theatre, but they are still controlled by surgeons with years of training and experience.

Take Boris for example, a Mako robotic arm. We welcomed Boris to Nuffield Health Exeter Hospital in March and he's already assisting our expert orthopaedic Consultants with hip and knee replacement operations.

Boris looks rather simple and requires a human to move, but it makes a huge difference to the patient. Here's how he works:

Mapping the body

Boris's job begins long before the patient arrives for surgery. In the weeks ahead of the operation we take a 3D CT scan of the patient's body and feed the information into Boris's computer. Surgeons can then plan the operation to within fractions of a millimetre with Boris's assistance.

Spatially aware 

When it comes to surgery, Boris is spatially aware, meaning he can see where the patient's body is in relation to everything else. He recognises the key landmarks from the scans and locks its sensors to them. Boris knows exactly where the patient is throughout the surgery, even if they move.

Pinpoint accuracy

Matching the planned surgery to the live environment is what makes Boris so useful. Surgeons use his arm as an extension of themselves, guiding surgical tools to the correct position.

Boris won't allow the tool to operate until it's in exactly the right position and won't allow the tool to be moved from the correct position while in operation. This is what makes robotic arm assisted surgery so accurate in both hip and knee replacement surgeries.

Enhanced results

Even without robot assistance, our surgeons achieve excellent results. Robotic arm assistance simply pushes results beyond what we've been able to expect in the past. Higher accuracy means the replacement fits as well as it possibly can and ensures the joint functions as normally as possible after surgery.

For patients, it's been shown to result in shorter hospital stay, quicker recovery and higher satisfaction. There's also strong evidence of decreased pain and complications following surgery.

Enquire about robotic arm assisted hip replacement at Nuffield Health Exeter Hospital

Enquire about robotic arm assisted knee replacement at Nuffield Health Exeter Hospital

Read the full Press Release about Boris's arrival here.

Disclaimer: Nuffield Health holds no financial interest in the Mako robotic arm or its manufacturer, nor does Nuffield Health endorse one medical product or device over another. Robotic arm assisted surgery may not be suitable for some patients. Your consultant will help you decide what treatment is best for you.

Last updated Friday 7 December 2018

First published on Sunday 9 April 2017