During computer-assisted surgery, a model of the knee is developed using information taken from a special instrument that outlines the contour of the knee. An infrared camera attached to a computer sees signals from this instrument. The computer then develops a model of the knee. This image is projected onto a monitor and helps guide the surgeon's attachment of the artificial implant to the bone. Along with the surgeon's skill and experience, CAS provides an internal view for more precise alignment of the implant, which can contribute to the long-term success of the total knee replacement.
Computer-assisted surgery is available for all total knee replacement surgeries but is best used for difficult cases like knock-kneed or bow-legged deformities. After surgery, patients are usually in the hospital for about five days. Rehabilitation begins in the hospital and will continue at home. Patients usually use crutches or a walker for about six weeks.
Computer-assisted surgery helps surgeons align the patient's bones and joint implants with a degree of accuracy not possible with the naked eye. For the first time doctors have detailed information allowing them to balance the ligaments and it is given to them before they make the necessary cuts. The computers also help doctors who use smaller incisions instead of the traditional larger openings. Small-incision surgery, most often referred to as minimally invasive surgery, offers the potential for faster recovery, less bleeding and less pain for patients.