Virtual Total Knee Replacement: Know The Procedure, Effects, Pros And Cons Of This Surgery

Updated at: Dec 04, 2020
Virtual Total Knee Replacement: Know The Procedure, Effects, Pros And Cons Of This Surgery

Let's understand what goes into Virtual Total Knee Replacement and its advantages by Dr Atul Mishra.

Tavishi Dogra
Other DiseasesWritten by: Tavishi DograPublished at: Dec 04, 2020

What is Virtual Total Knee Replacement? How is this surgery done? Computer-assisted surgeries have improved the accuracy of many kinds of medical procedures. During a knee replacement surgery, the arthritic portion of the knee is removed and is covered with a blend of metal and plastic parts that eventually form the new surfaces of the knee joint. However, during a virtual total knee replacement, a surgeon uses computed tomography (CT) scans to build a virtual model of the patients’ knee. The model act as a guide for the surgeon and the surgeon uses a robotic arm to fix the components of the new knee in a precise manner. The technology is used because it allows the surgeon to create a 3D virtual model of the knee of the patient which enables them to create a surgery plan that can be adjusted during the surgery, if necessary. 

How effective is Virtual Total Knee Replacement Surgery?

Some points to be considered while talking about the effectiveness of a virtual total knee replacement are:

Virtual Total Knee Replacement Surgery

  • The implant positioning is more accurate which gives the patient a more natural feeling once the surgery is complete 
  • There is improved safety and reduced risk of injury to adjacent tissues as the procedure is done with a lot of precision 
  • There are small incisions which in turn ensure a quicker recovery and less pain for the patient. The time for hospitalization is also reduced to a great extent 

During the procedure, a robotic arm is used to precisely shape the surrounding bone of the knee before placing the implant, and real-time video images help by providing visual reinforcement. This allows the surgeon to look at areas which may be otherwise hard to navigate. In addition to this, when the surgeon prepares the bone for the implant, the robotic arm has the potential to guide the surgeon within the predefined area which ensures a more accurate and a better-aligned knee replacement.

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How do the robotic instruments work in this surgery?

The robotic instrument has tracking eyes and can adjust itself for the minimal knee movements if they occur at any time. It prepares the bone with extreme precision according to the visual boundaries that protect the essential structure of the knee, and it removes only the part that has been affected. Once the implant is placed, the joint is appropriately balanced, and the surgeon makes adjustments if required. The technology is used because it allows the surgeon to create a 3D virtual model of the knee of the patient which enables them to create a surgery plan that can be adjusted during the surgery, if necessary.

Some benefits of a virtual total knee implant surgery are:

knee implant surgery

  • The implant positioning is more accurate which gives the patient a more natural feeling once the surgery is complete
  • There is improved safety, and reduced risk of injury to adjacent tissues as the procedure is done with a lot of precision
  • There are small incisions which in turn ensure a quicker recovery and less pain for the patient. The time for hospitalization is also reduced to a great extent
  • There is potential for a greater long-term function
  • It provides real-time sensory feedback
  • It can be used for both partial and total knee replacements

The recovery for this method is quicker than in a traditional knee replacement surgery; the patient may be able to walk right after the surgery. The patient can also return to their everyday activities within 1-4 weeks. The exact time depends on the patient’s health and extent of the surgery. Therefore, if one experiences pain and stiffness in the knee due to osteoarthritis, they can immediately consult a specialist who can further help in getting the right treatment and surgery.

Also Read: 6 Home Remedies to Treat Knee Pain

Here are some pros and cons of Virtual Total Knee Replacement 

Pros of virtual total knee replacement surgery include:

  • Less blood loss during surgery and less post-operative pain
  • Less damage to the soft tissue surrounding the skin, including ligaments, muscles, and tendons
  • Smaller scar
  • There is potential for a greater long-term function
  • It provides real-time sensory feedback

Cons of virtual total knee replacement surgery include:

  • Possible increased likelihood that knee components may be misaligned or poorly fit
  • Limited view of the joint provided to the surgeon. It is technically a demanding surgery that has a steep learning curve for surgeons
  • Soft tissue and skin can be torn and stretched during surgery
  • This surgery typically takes a long time for surgeons to perform
  • This less studied, newer, the surgical procedure may have unknown potential risks
bone health

What is the role of Virtual Physical Therapy after virtual knee replacement surgery?

  • A virtual system for in-home physical therapy provides good outcomes for a patient who are undergoing rehabilitation after a virtual knee transplant surgery. It lowers costs while providing similar effectiveness as traditional physiotherapy.
  • If you do not continue with physical therapy, then here we are telling you some of the negative consequences which can potentially occur in patients recovering from knee surgery. Supporting soft tissue and muscles can begin to atrophy due to swelling and nonuse. From improper movement, an increased strain can be put on the knee.
  • For your full recovery after arthroscopic surgery, regular exercise to restore mobility and strength to your knee is important. Your physical therapist or orthopaedic surgeon may recommend that you exercise 2 or 3 times a day, for approximately 20 to 30 minutes.

  • For knee replacements, most rehabilitation programs usually include a range of quadriceps strengthening, motion exercises, daily life training exercises and gait training. During your healing session, it is essential to avoid overworking or straining the knee.
  • After a total knee replacement, outpatient physical therapy typically lasts four to eight weeks. Your restoration period could be longer or shorter. Just remember that everyone heals at different rates.
  • Must ensure to work closely with your physical therapist and doctor to understand your specific rehabilitation process.
  • By placing a pillow under your ankle or calf (not your knee) raise your leg above the level of your heart. Apply ice three to four times a day for 20 minutes to help reduce swelling. If you have an increase in calf pain, call your surgeon right away. After the surgery, you will likely have a decrease in energy.

PRECAUTION TIPS FOR PATIENTS TO RECOVER WELL POST SURGERY

  • Protein and Vitamin C  – dairy, soy, eggs, beans, poultry, cottage cheese, meat, fish, and nuts are all excellent sources of protein. Vitamin C helps your body make collagen.
  • Consume quality probiotic, reduce salt and decrease sugar.
post surgery
  • Keep your follow-up appointments and follow your doctor's instructions.
  • Prevent infection by eating and drinking properly
  • During a total knee replacement surgery, surgeons replace all the compartments of the knee joint. Patients who suffer from arthritis, stiffness, or deformity in the knee, it is best to get a total knee replacement rather than a partial knee replacement. 

The arthritic portion of the knee is removed during a knee replacement surgery. Then eventually forming the new surfaces of the knee joint, it is treated with a mix-up of plastic and metal parts. However, a surgeon uses computed tomography (CT) scans, during a virtual total knee replacement, to build a virtual model of the patients’ knee. The surgeon uses a robotic arm to set the components of the new knee in a precise manner in which the model act as a guide for the surgeon.

(With inputs from Dr Atul Mishra, Director – Orthopaedics, Fortis Hospital, Noida)

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