Sean Cloherty, a representative with medical robotics manufacturer Zimmer Biomet, explains how two pieces of the ROSA

surgical system at the Jefferson Medical Center work together. The system is assisting surgeons with knee replacements at the WVU Medicine hospital in Ranson. Purchased at part of the hospital’s participation in the burgeoning transformation of medicine through robotics, ROSA will also soon guide doctors with other joint-replacement procedures.

RANSON – Her name isn’t Siri or Alexa, it’s ROSA. And surgeons at Jefferson Medical Center know her well as their new robotic operating room assistant.

“We’ve already done surgery with it,” said Dr. Bradford Wright, one of three physicians who recently began using the ROSA system for guiding knee replacement operations. “It’s proven itself to be a tremendous assistant so that we can get excellent results.”

It won’t be long before ROSA begins helping orthopedic doctors at Ranson’s WVUMedicine hospital with other reconstructive surgeries, including hip and shoulder replacements, Wright said. The surgeons are just waiting for the release of additional specialty three-dimensional modeling software for her lightning-fast computational brain.

“It doesn’t make me do different surgery,” Wright said of ROSA, a system offered by the medical technology firm Zimmer Biomet in Warsaw, Ind. “It gives me more information so I can do the surgery that I do much, much better.”

First adapted for brain surgeries for patients with epilepsy, ROSA stands for robotic stereotactic assistance, with stereotactic technology using three-dimensional coordinates to accurately pinpoint and map anatomical features inside a particular human body.

“I can literally sit and say, ‘OK, I want to change this here. What does that do for the rest of the alignment positioning of this prosthesis on this patient? What are my range of motions going to be? What are the problems going to be if I do certain things?’” Wright said of the ROSA’s capabilities in helping doctors prepare for reconstructive surgeries for particular patients. “It would have been almost impossible to do without the robot to get the alignment that we were able to get.”

In January, Wright was the first doctor to use the ROSA system at Jefferson Medical for a knee replacement. Among the newest generation of various medical robotics, ROSA is the legacy of about 20 years of pioneering with such computer-aided systems in operating rooms, he said.

WVU Medicine officials won’t say how much ROSA cost, except to say a lot. However, ROSA is among a range of other medical advances in surgical techniques, equipment, anesthesia that are combining to provide increasingly better surgical results, Wright said.

And robotics in surgery isn’t new for WVUMedicine’s hospitals in the Eastern Panhandle. Berkeley Medical Center first began using a robotic system called Razor X for spine surgeries in 2017. The hospital also uses a robotics system called a da Vinci Xi now for hernia operations and plans to expand the system’s use for urological, gynecological and thoracic procedures.

Precision and speed are ROSA’s particular genius for surgery. Wright said he and his Jefferson Medical surgical colleagues, Drs. David Richards and Craig Clark, will still do the cutting during their operations with ROSA by their side. However, doctors will use her mechanical arm and display screen to obtain down-to-the-millimeter measurements both before and during surgeries.

“It is kind of the measure twice cut once type thing,” Wright explained of ROSA’s role. “The computer’s doing the measuring—and measuring about 30,000 times around—before I cut once.”

More accurate measurements will permit more accurate selections of joint implants, which is important when replacing the complex biomechanical functions of knees, hips and shoulders, Wright said. Accurate measurements also allow for less-invasive operations, which reduce surgical pain and recovery times, shorten hospital stays and lessen the potential for complications such as infections and blood clots, he said.

Reconstructive bone surgeries that once required hospital stays of two and three weeks several years ago allow patients to return home after two days, he said.

Yet it is the detail information that ROSA and other robotic systems gather across the entire health care industry that represents a new frontier of medical knowledge and care, Wright and other WVU Medicine officials said.

Data from operations assisted by ROSA will be fed back into a vast database containing information from other surgeries across the country. Tracking and analyzing that growing storehouse of medical data should eventually provide doctors and hospitals with more understanding about the surgical decisions and techniques that produce the best outcomes for patients under a wide range of circumstances.

“There’s a lot of things that are coming along, and you have to look at the robot as one of those things to assist you,” Wright said.

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