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Surgeons use GPS for better knee surgery

Rush University Medical Center is among the first hospitals in US to use a computer-assisted navigation system in orthopedic joint replacement surgery.

The image-guided navigation system is similar to the location and directional tracking systems used for cars and ships today — it is, in effect, GPS for the surgeon. Informative positioning calculations are displayed on a graphically intuitive screen, which dynamically changes with the individual patient’s anatomy.

Orthopedic implant developer, Zimmer Inc. and navigation technologies developer, Medtronic Surgical Navigation Technologies have teamed up to offer this solution in the United States at Rush. Orthopedic surgeons at Rush have been leaders in the introduction of minimally-invasive surgical (MIS) joint replacement in the U.S. and plan to adopt surgical navigation into their MIS procedures in the near future.

This technology superimposes the position of the instruments as they are used in surgery onto images of the anatomy displayed on a monitor. Much as the driver of a car uses the GPS system to find the way on the road, the surgeon depends on these images to confirm the position of their instruments in relation to the patient’s anatomy.

The image-guided surgery (IGS) camera works like the satellite that detects signals from cars, boats, and other vehicles equipped with special tracking devices. As the surgeon moves an instrument within the patient’s joint, the IGS camera, like the GPS satellite, calculates its position, and then transfers that data to a computer in the operating room. The computer then shows the direction and location of the instrument.

Rush orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mitchell Sheinkop has introduced a universal navigation system in conventional knee replacement surgeries, and will train other orthopedic surgeons using this new computer-assisted navigation system.