Computer Assisted Surgery, or CAS, is an intra-operative tool that surgeons can use to improve their visualization of the surgical site during total joint replacement, even when using MIS techniques.
CAS works by first affixing trackers (markers) to the patient anatomy. The position of these trackers, and therefore the position of the patient, can be followed at all times during surgery by a computer system in the operating room. The system acts much like a GPS for a car: a satellite (the computer system) can follow the position of a GPS receiver (the tracker), and because the receiver is attached to the car (the anatomy), the satellite also knows the car position.
When the surgeon also uses certain surgical instruments that have a tracker attached to them, the computer system can tell him not only the patient position, but exactly how these instruments are positioned relative to the patient anatomy. By positioning instruments in exactly the right spot, the surgeon can ensure each step of the joint replacement is carried out in a way that ensures optimal implant placement and alignment.
A particular advantage of CAS is that it can provide this alignment information when using MIS incisions, helping surgeons visualize at all times the anatomic references they are used to using to position implants, but would otherwise be hard to locate under MIS. In this way, CAS helps surgeons deliver the advantages of MIS techniques-faster recovery, less pain, smaller scars-while also reducing the risks associated with less visibility.
Other benefits of computer-assisted surgery