Global-positioning system offers surgeons a powerful tool for minimally invasive joint replacement

Doctors with Abbott Northwestern Hospital’s Orthopaedic Institute have a new and valuable tool for performing knee replacement surgeries.

VectorVision, a “global-positioning system for the body,” allows surgeons to use preoperative diagnostic images to visualize and track the position of their choice of surgical instruments intraoperatively through a touch-screen interface.

The VectorVision system empowers surgeons to select the optimal implant during total joint replacement surgery by using a patient’s 3-D image data. The system ensures that the ligaments have the appropriate tension after the operation, allowing the patient’s leg to move smoothly after knee replacement. “This technology is the biggest advancement in total knee replacement in several years,” said James R. Larson, MD.

For the increasing number of people needing joint replacement surgery, the device offers patients hope of less pain and a shortened recovery time after surgery. “Image-guided knee replacement is a natural transition from minimally-invasive procedures,” said Tilok Ghose, MD. “The system provides improved accuracy, which is especially important since the average age of patients requiring knee replacements is getting younger.”

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 379,000 total knee replacement surgeries were performed in the United States in 2001. The number of total joint replacements is expected to rise each year as baby boomers age and expect to typically remain active later in life.

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