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Bringing data to the operating table

Zimmer Biomet’s ROSA robotics system helps orthopedic surgeons be more accurate and precise

Bringing data to the operating table
The ROSA robotic system allows surgeons to measure a patient’s specific anatomy to personalize the surgical approach.

For many patients, orthopedic surgery is a quality-of-life saver. It can relieve pain and restore function to their bones and joints, helping keep them active—whether it’s running a 5k or simply getting dressed by themselves every morning. But highly complex surgeries such as joint replacements often are guided by surgeons’ experience and intuition. For instance, surgeons may know they want a certain incision to be made at a 40-degree angle, but when they make the cut, they judge the position with their eye.

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Medical device company Zimmer Biomet recognized an opportunity to inject more accuracy, precision, and consistency into orthopedic surgery through the use of robotic tools. “Robotics bring objective measures to the table,” says Liane Teplitsky, president of global robotics and technology and data solutions at Zimmer Biomet. “It brings data that the surgeons can use to understand exactly why they’re doing what they’re doing.”

Zimmer Biomet created its ROSA robotic system to help orthopedic surgeons perform precise procedures and improve patient outcomes via data analytics. After being approved by the FDA for use in knee replacement surgeries in 2019, ROSA—which stands for “robotic surgical assistant”—gained approval for hip replacement surgeries in 2021. The introduction of robotic tools to improve the hip replacement process aims to deliver better results to the roughly 450,000 patients in the U.S. who have these surgeries every year. That’s a key reason why Zimmer Biomet earned a spot on Fast Company’s list of the world’s Most Innovative Companies.

A FLEXIBLE TOOL

ROSA isn’t meant to replace surgeons—or even overrule their intuitive skills that are so integral in delivering successful patient outcomes. The robotic system was designed to be a flexible tool that enables surgeons to perform procedures in a manner they prefer. That’s a departure from other robotic surgical devices that require surgeons to follow a prescribed path during an operation. With the ROSA system, Teplitsky says, “You can make whichever cut you want first. You can take whichever measurements you want first.”

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What ROSA offers is a robotic helping hand. For instance, the system allows surgeons to measure a patient’s specific anatomy to personalize the surgical approach and even optimize the fit of the knee or hip implant. It can accurately measure the angle of a tool so surgeons can feel more confident and bring a higher level of consistency to what they are doing.

AN ENTIRE DATA ECOSYSTEM

ROSA’s benefits go beyond the operating table. Traditionally, surgeons rely on patients’ feedback to monitor them before and after their operations. However, much of that feedback can be subjective—like how much pain a patient was feeling after walking up stairs. Zimmer Biomet’s ROSA system aims to augment that qualitative self-reporting with a trove of quantitative data. For instance, the company’s mymobility app pairs with a patient’s smartphone or Apple Watch to measure such things as their gait and the number of steps they take, relaying that data back to healthcare providers to help them provide the appropriate levels of pre-op and post-op care.

Indeed, data is the key to ROSA’s potential to redefine the orthopedic surgery field. The ability to gather data and deliver actionable information to surgeons can not only help make surgeries less invasive and efficient, but also can deliver better outcomes to patients. “That’s something really special about ROSA,” Teplitsky says. “It doesn’t just plug into a wall; it plugs into this entire data ecosystem.”

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