Explore Robotic Surgery

About Robotic Orthopedic Surgery

The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital is home to the latest innovations in surgical technology. Our surgeons are board-certified, Harvard Medical School-affiliated physicians with a shared goal to make the surgical experience as smooth, fast, precise and painless as possible. A robotic surgical system enhances your surgeon’s ability to see your body clearly and operate carefully and exactly with a steady, computer-guided tool.

Surgeons in the Hip & Knee Replacement Service utilize a cutting-edge robotic surgery system to offer patients the most advanced surgical care available. Using this system, surgeons acquire:

  • Enhanced three-dimensional visuals of the surgical area
  • More delicate surgical precision and deliberate implant placement
  • A superior range of motion in hard-to-reach spaces inside the human body

It may be helpful to think of our robotic surgical system as a complement to, rather than a replacement of, our skilled surgeons; merely one tool in our arsenal as we take a layered and multifaceted team approach to your surgery.

In the hands of an expert multidisciplinary team that includes highly skilled surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and practitioners, you can feel confident in the care that you and your loved ones receive at Mass General.

Patient Benefits of Robotic Surgery

Robotic surgery allows doctors to perform minimally invasive surgery—or surgery performed through tiny incisions instead of a large opening—for various complex procedures. Compared to open surgery performed by hand, robotic surgical technology allows for better precision, flexibility and control.

Some of the benefits of robot-assisted surgery include:

  • Smaller incisions
  • Decreased blood loss during surgery
  • More accurate implant placement
  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Decreased levels of pain and discomfort following surgery
  • Fewer complications following surgery
  • Quicker recovery

Hip and Knee Conditions Treated by Robotic Surgery

Robotic surgery can be beneficial when treating:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears and injuries
  • Collateral ligament injuries
  • Malunions from fractures around the hip and knee
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Meniscus tears and injuries
  • Osteoarthritis of the hip or knee
  • Osteoporosis of the hip or knee
  • Osteosarcoma of the hip or knee (bone cancer)
  • Patellar dislocation and instability (unstable kneecap)
  • Patellar fractures
  • Patellar tendon tears
  • Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) tears and injuries
  • Quadriceps tendon tears

If you are interested in learning more about robotic surgery options for hip and knee, call the Mass General Hip & Knee Replacement Service at 617-726-8575.

Frequently Asked Questions about Robotic Surgery

Who performs the surgery—the surgeon or the robot?

Although called “robot-assisted surgery,” it is more accurately described as surgery where your highly skilled surgeon is assisted by computerized machines. The surgeon stands at a console in the operating room and controls robotic arms using a delicate system of hand controls. Using the robotic surgical system, which includes a high-definition, three-dimensional camera and miniaturized tools, the surgeon operates using microscopic, carefully controlled incisions. The robotic camera allows the surgeon to see highly magnified images that have greater resolution and clarity than what can be seen with the naked eye. Your surgeon is in control throughout the entire operation, and simply manipulates the robotic surgical system. A specialized and experienced surgical team will be in the operating room during the entire procedure to provide additional assistance to the surgeon.

Is robotic surgery safe?

As with all surgical procedures, robotic surgery comes with risk. Surgeons at Mass General are highly skilled, board-certified, Harvard Medical School-affiliated physicians who are experts in robot-assisted surgery. They mitigate risks by standardizing the operating room procedures and protocols, implementing strict training and credentialing guidelines for all medical staff, and maintaining operating room staff who are proficient with robotic technology and equipment. Mass General does not adopt new surgical tools and technology until those tools have been adequately tested for safety and quality and demonstrate sufficiently positive outcomes in order to meet our high, industry-leading standards for quality care. Read more about robotic surgery at Mass General.

What should I expect when I undergo robotic surgery for hip and knee?

As with any other procedure performed at Mass General, with a robot-assisted surgical procedure you can expect to:

  • Be greeted warmly by all members of your care team
  • Have your knee or hip mapped by our team in order to develop a unique, customized plan for surgery
  • Review your surgical plan with your surgeon and anesthesia team prior to your procedure
  • Be surrounded by a full, professional care team (anesthesiologist, physician assistant, surgeon, etc.) throughout the procedure
  • Be discharged with smaller, less-noticeable incisions and less pain than a traditional surgery
  • Return home quickly—sooner, in many cases. Your hospital stay will depend on your procedure. Discharge from Mass General can be as quick as the same day as surgery, or early the following day.
What is the difference between minimally invasive surgery and robotic surgery?

Robotic surgery falls under the category of minimally invasive surgery, which refers to any surgical procedure that is performed through tiny incisions instead of a large opening. Other terms for “minimally invasive procedures” include laparoscopy, video thoracoscopy and endoscopy.

Is robotic surgery available for all hip and knee surgeries?

Though an option for many, it is not necessarily available for all. Talk with your doctor today about how it may or may not fit into your plan of care.