Why You Should Be Planning Knee Procedures Digitally
To what extent can success be attributed to planning? As with most things in life it undoubtedly helps, and in orthopaedic surgery there are many good reasons to use digital planning tools for both complex and simple procedures, given that digital images and picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) are now the norm in most hospitals.
Digitally planning a knee joint replacement procedure, or a revision, can make the surgical procedure quicker and easier to perform, and an increasing number of surgeons are using digital planning tools. Moreover, there are additional benefits for the hospital and the patient as well as the surgeon from planning knee and other orthopaedic procedures digitally.
Plan cases faster
With software designed specifically for knee procedures, pre-operative planning becomes easier and faster because it provides everything you need in one package. Accessing the patient’s images on the PACS, selecting and sizing the prosthesis and even comparing options, takes a matter of minutes. The digital x-ray and prosthesis template library are a click away and the plan is easily saved back to the PACS for future reference during or after surgery, or to refer back to at a later date.
Plan cases more precisely
In order to analyze the patient’s anatomy and select the most appropriate prosthesis size, the surgeon can correct the effects of x-ray magnification onscreen in various ways: with the use of a scaling marker or by selecting the known oversize of the x-ray image; but he can also zoom in to see defects and anatomical landmarks in more detail.
Save unnecessary costs
As digital surgical planning makes it easier for the surgeon to analyze the patient’s anatomy and anticipate what they might find in surgery, it is possible to reduce the need for a huge implant inventory. By reducing the need for a large range of prosthesis options to be available in surgery, sterilization costs are reduced and there is also less potential inventory waste.
Improve team communication
It is easy to share the pre-operative plans with the entire surgical team prior to surgery when it is on the PACS. The PACS system also allows surgeons to refer back to particular cases when the plan may be appropriate to replicate or to compare differences. Digital planning is also used extensively as a training tool for this same reason.
Improve patient communication
Having a pre-operative plan that can be called up from the PACS and viewed on a screen during a consultation can help to clarify elements of the surgery for the patient. The doctor can discuss the surgical process with the patient, and set his/her expectations for the surgical outcome. In a worst-case scenario where complications arise post-operatively, the digital record of the surgical plan, along with notes from the surgery itself, can provide a useful reference.