Risks of Navigated Surgery

Why discuss risks?

Many sites on the web are evangelical about navigation. This is perhaps related to need to market a product or service. CAOS UK, while keen to promote the benefits of navigated surgery, hopes to remain purely objective. While our conferences may be sponsored by industry, our scientific programme and our activities are geared towards being independent of industrial pressures and bias. We also recognise that Navigated surgery is not for every one, and understand that currently most surgeons do not use CAOS. Our objective is to relay the scientifically verifiable evidence for (or against) navigation. On the whole modern navigated surgery is a safe procedure. The risks some feel may be: - 

Longer operation Navigated surgery involves a long period when the joint is "regsitered" before the operation actually starts. This may be offset by speedier subsequent steps, but for most surgeons, navigated surgery takes longer and increases the period of anaesthesia for the patient. With newer techniques and experience of the surgeons this difference in operative length is less, even zero in many cases.

Potential for Fractures Often navigated surgery uses trackers that are drilled into bone. This has on very rare occasions caused fractures. It must be noted that even non-navigated surgery carries the risk of fracture

"Garbage in garbage out" It is entirely possible that errors in registration will make the surgeon place the bone cuts and implants incorrectly. Training is required to achieve reproducibly good results. CAOS UK provides workshops and training for surgeons to help reduce errors.

Benefits of navigation in the long term may be difficult to prove Conventional surgery has already got a high success rate. The improvement in implant life with navigation may not be apparent for some time. The longevity can be however estimated by laboratory stress studies. Evidence to date seems to favour navigaton.