iPod program boosts accuracy of knee-replacement surgery

An mHealth program awarded U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval last year now is helping doctors worldwide revolutionize knee replacement surgery, the Southtown Star reported.

The program--a navigational system dubbed Dash--is used on a surgeon's iPod. It helps ensure that measurements used for incisions and placing the replacement knee are much more precise than the method more often used: aligning and securing the artificial joint by running a metal rod through the tibia.

When the surgeon can put the iPod in a cradle, spheres on top of and underneath the iPod use a Wi-Fi connection to send measurements taken by the doctor to an infrared camera set up in the operating room. A computer connected to the camera then sends calculations back to the iPod to determine if the surgeon is accurate with measurements taken.

"This takes the rod out of the equation," George Branovacki, an orthopedic surgeon at Oak Lawn, Ill.-based Christ Medical Center, said, according to the Star. Christ, according to the article, is the first--and so far, the only--hospital in the U.S. to use the technology.

Branovacki just started using the Dash program in July, but it already has used it in more than a dozen operations. He would like to use it in roughly 30 operations before presenting his findings at a conference in Australia next month.

A surgeon in India, Arun Mullaji, was the first in the world to successfully use the program in an operation in April 2011, according to an article in the Times of India.

"Studies prove that within the next 30 years, there is likely to be a 600 percent increase in the number of revision surgeries world over," Mullaji told the Times of India. "The iPod navigation system helps in giving the alignment of the bone joint with 0.1 mm precision."

To learn more:
- read the Southtown Star article
- here's the FDA's approval (.pdf)
- check out the Times of India piece