There are several different ways for an orthopedic surgeon to perform knee replacement surgery. There is the conventional surgical procedure where the surgeon uses a series of external and internal alignment jigs that help to guide in bone section and ligamentous balance during the knee replacement. This is the gold standard and has been used for decades.
Another surgical option is to have a computer navigated knee replacement. With computer navigation the surgeon places a series of sensors around the knee joint and uses the computer to guide the surgeon in bone resection and ligament balance. Computer navigation became popular around 2005. The question has arisen as to which technique is better: a computer navigated knee replacement vs using conventional surgical technique.
Drs. Kim, Park and Kim reported in the October 2012 addition of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery that there is no difference in outcomes when comparing patients that have undergone total knee replacement with computer navigation to conventional knee replacement.
They enrolled 1,040 knees in the study, average age was 68 years and average follow up was 10. 8 years. They assessed participants clinically and radiographically. The researchers also used two different knee scoring systems to assess each patient: Knee Society score and the WOMAC (or the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index).
Proper alignment and placement of the prosthesis has been linked to long term survival of the total knee replacement. The researchers found no difference between the knees that were performed with computer navigation vs the conventional method of total knee replacement surgery that is performed without the use of a computer navigation.