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Who’s holding the knife? Growing number of surgeons expected to use robotic tools

ows_147345722269133A new wave of robotically assisted tools for knee and hip replacements is moving into specialty centers and hospitals around Minnesota, and the number of procedures appears poised to spike in 2017. The surgical robots carry big price tags, but people who use them say the cost is made up in quicker recovery times and more predictable results, especially in complex cases.

Last month a Kimball, Minn., woman made state history when she walked out of a surgical center in St. Cloud less than 12 hours after Dr. Eric Green used a robot-guided system to do the first total-knee replacement surgery in Minnesota. In the Twin Cities, Dr. Robert Hartman last year performed the state’s first hip replacement and partial-knee joint replacements using robotically guided tools.

The machines represent a significant opportunity for the medical device industry. By 2018, about one-third of all orthopedic surgeons nationally are expected to use robotic systems, compared to about 18 percent today, stock analysts with RBC Capital Markets projected last spring. Doctors cited a lack of early scientific evidence of superior results and the cost of the systems as two of the biggest obstacles to wider adoption.

By Joe Carlson | Star Tribune

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