Smartphone surgery arrives at St George Private

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The smartphone has become an indispensable part of life since exploding in popularity a decade ago.

And now the world’s most ubiquitous device is changing the way surgeons perform procedures in the operating room.

Ramsay Health Care’s St George Private Hospital has recently introduced new technology that allows precise surgical implantation of knee replacement prostheses.

It involves using a palm-sized computer with the same technology found in smartphones to perform knee replacement surgical procedures.

The new system is called OrthAlign. It is a replacement for first generation computer navigation systems, which are still in use today but are large, costly and require additional technicians to operate them and add significant time to surgery.

“iPhones are the most powerful tool in our communications arsenal and they are revolutionising patient care in the operating room too,” St George Private orthopaedic surgeon Dr Sam MacDessi said.

OrthAlign uses smartphone-type technologies such as accelerometers and gyroscopes that precisely allow implantation of the knee replacement.

The pods are more streamlined and simply attach to the regular surgical instruments without requiring additional steps such as drilling the computer tracking device to a patient’s bone.

The system is believed to result in longer lasting knee replacements, especially when used in patients under the age of 65.

It’s one of many ways smartphones are changing the way patients are treated.

A doctor in the United States recently used his iPhone and an AliveCor device – a sensor that records clinically accurate electrocardiograms when connected to an iPhone – to measure the vital signs of a passenger who was experiencing severe chest pains mid-flight.

When the readings indicated that the passenger was having a heart attack, the doctor was able to recommend an emergency landing. The passenger survived after being rushed to hospital.

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