Robot takes knee surgery precision to ‘next level’

Photo courtesy Norris, Blessinger & Woebkenberg Orthopaedics & Spine Facebook


JASPER — Surgeons at a Jasper medical practice recently began using a robotically-assisted surgical system that makes a popular procedure even more precise.

Norris, Blessinger & Woebkenberg Orthopaedics & Spine is the first location in Dubois County to implement Zimmer Biomet’s ROSA Knee System for total knee replacements. The technology helps medical professionals plan in incredible depth for surgeries and also guides surgeons to perfectly aligned knees when used in the operating room.

“The ROSA is really just a fancy tool to understand alignment, space, [and] balance of tissues,” Dr. Brian Woebkenberg, an orthopaedic surgeon, said in a Friday phone interview. “So, it’s just like a really fancy compass for the knee that helps us understand where the hip is at, where the ankle’s at, how the femur and the tibia are aligned in all dimensions.”

According to a press release, data provided by the system assists with complex decision-making and enables surgeons to use computer and software technology to control and move surgical instruments, allowing for greater precision and flexibility during procedures. The integrated system consists of a robot and a computer.

Using the technology, pre-surgery X-rays are converted from two-dimensional images to 3-D versions by engineers in Canada and are then shot back to Jasper and imported into the ROSA.

Surgeons then use those three-dimensional images to determine where to cut and how to balance knees to create perfect alignment, Woebkenberg said. During surgery, medical professionals teach the robot where certain parts of a patient’s anatomy are located, and the robot’s arm aligns itself to allow surgeons to make bone cuts, and to also set the rotation of the implant.

Later, it tells surgeons what tweaks to make to fine-tune the procedure. Woebkenberg spoke throughout the interview of how the Rosa Knee technology takes the surgery to “that next level” of accuracy.

The computer and robot allow surgeons to understand joint replacement procedures in ways that make them “better all around, even when you’re not using the robot,” Woebkenberg said.

“The information that the robot or the computer gives us basically gives us ways to problem-solve in the operating room that really aren’t ways that you’re taught,” he said. “They just kind of make you think, ‘Oh, wow. I never thought about if I do this, it affects the knee in this way.’ Because it’s really out-of-the-box thinking.”

Readers seeking more information about ROSA Knee can visit Norris, Blessinger & Woebkenberg Orthopaedics & Spine’s website at The practice can also be reached at 634-1211 and is on Facebook.

“For everyone involved — surgeons, medical staff and, most importantly, patients — ROSA Knee has the potential to offer a number of key benefits and advantages,” Woebkenberg said in the press release. “We know the decision to have joint replacement is often a difficult one for patients to make, and we believe these robotically-assisted technologies have the potential to make it an easier one moving forward.”

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