Robotic-assisted surgery is becoming more common in Orthopaedics. These machines come in various forms from a robotic-arm that steadies the saw blade, to a system which controls a bone burr, to a system which acts as a “surgical assistant” to the surgeon.
I often use “Gaston”, a French pneumatically driven robot assistant in my total joint replacement surgeries. “He” never loses concentration, never gets tired, doesn’t get in the way, does whatever I ask, doesn’t tell bad jokes and can work all day.
The back story to the name of the pneumatic robot is amusing:
Gaston was so-named after a human surgical assistant in Paris who used to assist my fellowship mentor, Frederic Laude, in his surgeries. Gaston worked with Dr Laude for years as his trusty assistant before eventually moving on. When be left, Dr Laude collaborated with an engineer friend of his and designed this pneumatic robot to replace the excellent human assistant that he’d lost, and named “him” Gaston” after the human assistant who previously worked with him.
The attached photographs demonstrate this robotic assistant in action during a total hip replacement. In these images the robot is assisting me by holding surgical retractors.
The robot arm has an extremely versatile range of movement, doesn’t get in my way and will hold instruments and retractors perfectly still, indefinitely. This is very useful in Direct Anterior Hip Replacement where I am operating between muscles through a very small incision.
Having the robot to assist with surgical exposure is very useful and allows me to perform this surgery very efficiently. I currently still have a human assistant with me as well but it is very handy having a hard working robotic sidekick to assist with mechanical jobs such as retraction and surgical exposure as that frees up my human assistant to focus on other aspects of the surgery.
For more information about robotic-arm assisted total hip replacement please contact my office.
Surgeons interested to see the Gaston robot in action can visit Mr Freedman through our Visiting Surgeon Programme.