An engineer-turned-surgeon's outlook on orthopedic robots


The orthopedic industry is nearing an age of robotics when it comes to joint replacement robots, one surgeon predicts.

Ask Orthopedic Surgeons is a weekly series of questions posed to surgeons around the country about clinical, business and policy issues affecting orthopedic care. We invite all orthopedic surgeon and specialist responses.

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Please send responses to Carly Behm at by 5 p.m. CDT Wednesday, Oct. 5.

Editor's note: Responses were lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: How will joint replacement robots develop in the next five to 10 years?

Bruce Gomberg, MD. Northern Light Health (Falmouth, Maine): The evolution of orthopedic robots is an interesting phenomenon for me, as a former aerospace ergonomics engineer-turned-orthopedic surgeon. I am witness to a very similar progression in the operating room as we experienced in the cockpit. We are now in the phase where we are developing ways for the robot to do the traditional arthroplasty surgery. This is akin to initially creating a digital cockpit that looked and acted just like the analog cockpit, but was completely digital. In the future, we will most certainly move into the "real" robotic age, when surgery takes full advantage of the robot’s speed, precision and accuracy, and the surgeon transitions into the manager of the robot, using augmented reality and user interface principles proven to work in aviation. In this capacity, the robot will be the surgeon of the future.

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