A robot helps to work knee surgery

Waiblinger Central Clinic is the first to use “Rosa” in BaWü

Newspaper publishing Waiblingen 4. May 2023
ZVW editorial member Andrea Wüstholz


His name is “pink”, murries and never messes, does what they tell him, and that is extremely precise: a robot recently supports doctors in knee surgery at the Waiblinger Central Clinic. “Rosa” stands for “Robotic Surgical Assistant”, and this Friday the surgical helper will be used for the first time.
The machine works more precisely than a human, processes data faster than a human, sees more than a human being. Despite this, she likes to let her fingers away from the open knee, because in the most important field man is far superior to her: the experience of a surgeon or a surgeon is not to replace with anything.

That is why Dr. Karsten Reichmann, Head of the Waiblinger Central Clinic, and the other surgeons remain in the ring for every surgery: they prepare their own knees, insert the implant, continue to do with their own hands, which is to be done with a knee surgery. “Pink” informs the place at which exactly the instruments are to be put, shows visualizations from the inside of the knee on the screen, helps with the help
highly precise positioning and aligning the implant, jaws up if there is something to criticize – and shuts the shut-off if Dr. Reichmann wants to do so. He feeds the robot before an operation with all the information needed for this surgery.

“Extremely exciting” is the specialist in surgery, orthopaedics and accident surgery to find this new generation of robots. That the Waiblinger Central Clinic has a “pink” for the knee in all seriously as the very first step in Baden-Württemberg, is quite remarkable.

According to Britta Kemper, 150 robots of this kind are already assisted in operations throughout Europe. Kemper is a manager of the pink supplier, the US medical technology company Zimmer Biomet, and she prints a little around the question of what a pink costs. The list price is just under a million, but then reveals it – but who pays list price?


The case package theme:
Extra cost does not pay the cash register

The health insurance companies do not care who pays which list price. The Waiblinger Central Clinic, which has been certified as an endoprosthesis centre since 2015, receives a drop-rate for knee surgery like all other clinics. Like Reichmann and his colleagues bring these surgery over the stage, whether with pink or without, is their cause. Case flat rate remains a case flat rate. Such an expensive robot is reserved for private patients' knees, but you want to think – not at all. The vast majority of patients at the Central Clinic are legally insured, reports Dr. Reichmann. He wants to achieve a competitive advantage with the help of Rosa, because there is quite a lot of competition among clinics in the Stuttgart region.


The app as motivator: Enough steps and steps created?

Whoever entrusted his knee this Friday not only, but also “pink” and hopes for a painless future, should have already familiar with the app. The app provides information about the surgery in addition to the consultation, and it acts as a watcher and data collector: Did the patient or the patient complete the prescribed exercises? How many steps does he or she cover daily? How does it work with the stairs-climbing after the surgery? If you better prepare for a knee surgery, hope will appear to the appointment with less fear in your heart – that also plays a role. And those who can follow every step of the progress in hair-small understanding will perhaps follow the exercise plan with more elan and contribute as much as possible to make recovery progress.


The use of the robot promises better surgical results

Artificial intelligence can predict quite precisely what walking speed is expected ten weeks later on based on the data already two weeks after the knee surgery, meanwhile Michael Schwab from the company Zimmer Biomet reports. All parties involved can then adjust in time to the aftercare. Thanks to “pink” and thanks to the digital concept connected with “pink”, it is possible to check in detail what results are presented by surgery. The robot also ensures that follow-up OPs are no longer necessary, i.e. better results would be achieved directly. Novel robots act “much more sensitive” than machines of previous generations, with which Reichmann has already gained many experiences, the specialist says. During the surgery, he could handle soft tissues more gently and can handle a smaller surgical area than would be possible without Pink’s help.

In the bottom line, robot use in healthcare saves money because it remains with a single surgery that brings better results, Dr. Reichmann argues. He complains of the inertia of the financing system in the healthcare sector, which is changing much slower than technology. The robot improves human work, but does not replace it, according to the expert's assessment.


Simulated with data glasses
perceive worlds

During the presentation of the Robotic Surgical Assistant in Waiblingen, guests will receive a video of what they are expected to get used to in the near future: with data glasses on your nose, you look so stupid. But people see things with these glasses that, although simulated, give impressions of life after surgery – and much more. There is still no approval in Europe, which is likely to chase a shovel over the back of technology-critical and data-protection sensitive: Of course, you can also attach sensors to the knee and then highlight even more accurately when and where people move.

Enrico Braun from the company Zimmer Biomet shows guests in the Waiblinger Central Clinic the robot in real terms. Pink consists of two parts, of course has a touchscreen, also an imposing arm, a 3D camera and what the surgery team otherwise needs. Assistance systems of this kind “will definitely prevail,” predicts Karsten Reichmann, who wants to take part in all knee surgery at the Waiblinger Central Clinic “Rosa”. Sandra Schönjahn from Zimmer Biomet, of course familiar with these topics for profession, can at least now “no longer imagine the future without robotic support”.


Photos: Büttner: Dr. med. Karsten Reichmann, Head of Medical at the Waiblinger Central Clinic. This robot will support surgeons at Waiblinger's Central Clinic in surgery on knees in future. “Pink” stands for Robotic Surgical Assistant - a robot as a surgical helper.


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